A fast and sensitive alternative for beta-galactosidase detection in mouse embryos

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology



Document Type



Animals; Galactosides; Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental; Genes, Reporter; Indoles; *Lac Operon; Mice; *Staining and Labeling; beta-Galactosidase


The bacterial lacZ gene is widely used as a reporter in a myriad of mouse transgenic experiments. beta-Galactosidase, encoded by lacZ, is usually detected using X-gal in combination with ferric and ferrous ions. This assay produces a blue indole precipitate that is easy to detect visually. Here, we show that Salmon-gal in combination with tetrazolium salts provides a more sensitive and faster staining reaction than the traditional beta-galactosidase assay in mouse embryos. Using a combination of Salmon-gal and tetranitroblue tetrazolium, we were able to visualize the activity of beta-galactosidase in embryos at stages when the customary X-gal reaction failed to detect staining. Our studies provide an enhanced alternative for beta-galactosidase detection in expression and cell fate studies that use lacZ-based transgenic mouse lines.

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Citation: Development. 2012 Dec 1;139(23):4484-90. doi: 10.1242/dev.078790. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal Title

Development (Cambridge, England)

PubMed ID