Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name




First Advisor

Dr. Roy Hunter, Jr.


A cytochemical study of the nucleus of Sarcoma 180 cancer cells from Crocker albino mice, grown ^n vitro, was made. The cancerous cells were treated with various reagents in an attempt to elucidate the nature of the nucleus. The Feulgen nuclear reaction revealed the presence of large quantities of DKA (deoxyribonucleic acid) within the nucleus of these malignant cells, which was not only evenly distributed throughout the structure, but also concentrated near one end of the nuclear membrane in some cells.

Cells were treated with 0.2% and 1.0% DNAase (adjusted to a pH of 6.0) and incubated at 37° C. for a one hour period. Treatment with the enzyme caused rapid breakdown of nuclear material leaving an apparently empty structure except for the presence of very conspicuous nucleoli. The enzyme revealed an apparent thickened nuclear membrane. The thickening was probably a result of the penetration of the membrane by the enzyme, or due to a breakdown of the chromatin material that has long been established as being in association with the nuclear membrane.

Some of the cultures were treated with varying concentrations of a soap-like detergent, digitonin. When cells were treated with strong concentrations of the substance (0.5%, 1.0%, and 5.0%) and incubated for a 12 hr. period, both the nuclei and cytoplasm became solubilized. Whereas, when weak concentrations (0.1% and 0.2%) were utilized, only the cytoplasm was solubilized leaving the nuclei intact. This property of digitonin, wherein nuclei were left intact after treatment, may be due to the inability of weak concentrations of the soap-like detergent to breakdown the disulfide bonds of the proteins of which the nuclear membrane is composed, thus allowing the nuclei to maintain their integrity.

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