UNIT 1.9 Detection of DNA Damage in Tissue Sections by In Situ Nick Translation

  1. Mary-Franciose Chesselet,
  2. Larami MacKenzie,
  3. Tuan Hoang

Published Online: 1 NOV 2001

DOI: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0109s16

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

How to Cite

Chesselet, M.-F., MacKenzie, L. and Hoang, T. 2001. Detection of DNA Damage in Tissue Sections by In Situ Nick Translation. Current Protocols in Neuroscience. 16:1.9:1.9.1–1.9.7.

Author Information

  1. UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 NOV 2001
  2. Published Print: AUG 2001


The technique of in situ nick translation (ISNT) is used to detect DNA strand breaks in tissue sections at the cellular level with great sensitivity. In fact, ISNT can be used to detect DNA damage in a single cell, which is particularly useful to assess programmed cell death during development. One crucial advantage of ISNT is the anatomical resolution that permits a detailed topographical analysis of DNA damage. This can be useful to identify cells that are more vulnerable to an experimental insult. Furthermore, cells with DNA damage can be identified morphologically with this method. This can be of interest to determine whether cells that exhibit DNA damage already exhibit clear features of dying cells or are still relatively intact morphologically. This can be useful to identify the mode of cell death involved. This unit provides a protocol that describes tissue preparation, in situ nick translation and emulsion autoradiography.