Bolton-Hunter reagent as a vital stain for developing systems

Michael J. Katz, Raymond J. Lasek, Philip Osdoby, J. Richard Whittaker, Arnold I. Caplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The Bolton-Hunter reagent, N-succinimidyl 3-(4-hydroxy, 5-[125I]iodophenyl)propionate, was used as a vital stain for developing amphibian and tunicate embryos and for isolated cells (human erythrocytes and cultured chick limb mesenchymal cells). We found that the Bolton-Hunter reagent can be used on living cells at room temperature with techniques that are quite similar to the techniques routinely used to label isolated macromolecules in vitro. At concentrations of vital stain that were sufficient to label intracellular proteins in intact-cells, labeled cells underwent normal developmental sequences. Under these conditions, vital staining with the Bolton-Hunter reagent disproportionately labeled exterior proteins, and it seems likely that the Bolton-Hunter reagent is an especially good vital stain for cell surface and cell membrane proteins. The Bolton-Hunter stain is covalently bound, is not reutilizable, and appears not to disrupt natural physiological and developmental processes. Thus, we used the Bolton-Hunter reagent to follow the natural life spans of proteins in vivo and we were able to distinguish particularly long-lived proteins in Xenopus embryos.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-429
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1982


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