Methods for evaluating the morphological and immunohistochemical properties of human tumor colonies grown in soft agar

Bruce Persky*, Stephen P. Thomson, Frank L. Meyskens, Mary J.C. Hendrix

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Clonogenic assays have been widely adopted for the investigation of hematopoietic and human tumor stem cell biology. Inasmuch as specific, whole colonies need to be analyzed morphologically, we used various methods for fixing and embedding individual colonies in situ that allowed macroscopic, light microscopic (LM), immunofluorescence, and transmission electron microscopic (TEM) evaluation of the intact colony. Melanoma colonies stained with Masson's Trichrome, hematoxylin and eosin (H&E), periodic acid-Schiff, Best's carmine, Page-Green method for inclusion bodies, and Snook's reticulum revealed cellular and extracellular components by LM. Ultrastructural studies revealed specific cellular organelles and extracellular components. Immunofluorescence studies demonstrated cell-surface fibronectin, a high molecular weight, adhesive glycoprotein. Myeloma colonies contained a heterogeneous cell population and produced amyloid fibers that were observed by TEM. Fixation and embedding the colonies in agar for TEM has several advantages over centrifugation methods and other conventional techniques for collecting cells in that (a) an entire specific colony can be studied, (b) there is excellent preservation of the cell and its spatial orientation in the colony, and (c) the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the colony is preserved for immunohistochemical analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-936
Number of pages8
JournalIn Vitro
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • clonogenic assay
  • extracellular matrix
  • fibronectin
  • immunofluorescence
  • melanoma
  • myeloma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Plant Science


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