Archives of histology and cytology

Platinum blue as an alternative to uranyl acetate for staining in transmission electron microscopy.

PMID 17558143


This paper introduces an aqueous solution of platinum blue (Pt-blue) as an alternative to uranyl acetate (UA) for staining in transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Pt-blue was prepared from a reaction of cis-dichlorodiamine-platinum (II) (cis-platin) with thymidine. When Pt-blue was dried on a microgrid and observed by TEM it showed a uniform appearance with tiny particles less than 1 nm in diameter. The effect of Pt-blue as an electron stain was then examined not only for positive staining of conventional ultrathin resin sections and counterstaining of post-embedding immuno-electron microscopy but also for negative staining. In ultrathin sections of the rat liver and renal glomerulus, Pt-blue provided good contrast images, especially in double staining combined with a lead stain (Pb). Almost all cell organelles were clearly observed with high contrast in these sections. Glycogen granules in the hepatic parenchymal cells were particularly electron dense in Pt-blue stained sections compared with those treated with UA. In longitudinal and transverse sections of budding influenza A viruses, a specific arrangement of rod-like structures, which correspond to the ribonucleoprotein complexes, was clearly shown in each virion stained with Pt-blue and Pb. When post-embedding immunoelectron microscopy was performed in ultrathin sections of HeLa cells embedded in Lowicryl K4M, the localization of Ki-67 protein was sufficiently detected even after Pt-blue and Pb staining. The present study also revealed that Pt-blue could be used for the negative staining of E. coli, allowing the visualization of a flagellum. These findings indicate that Pt-blue is a useful, safe, and easily obtainable electron stain that is an alternative to UA for TEM preparations.

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