A number of techniques are currently employed for the fractionation of heterogeneous cell populations or for the separation of cells in different phases of their cycle. With the development of osmotically inert colloidal silica particles media, density gradient centrifugation became an established method for the separation and purification of cells and subcellular particles. We have applied this technique to the separation of cycling from resting Friend erythroleukemia cells, to obtain purified populations for further biological assays. The flow cytometric analysis of DNA content of the different fractions obtained by the gradient and stained with Propidium Iodide (PI), showed the S compartment highly concentrated in the 1.073/77 g/ml interface, while the upper levels of the gradient were highly enriched of cells in G1 phase. Moreover, the dual parameter analysis of DNA content by means of Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdUrd) incorporation and PI staining, showed that part of the cells in the 1.067/73 fraction represented the early S phase even if their DNA level, measured on the basis of PI fluorescence was within the diploid cell cluster. This method seems to be suitable to obtain pure cell fractions even when dealing with numerically large populations.
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