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A novel apoptosis-specific protein (ASP) has recently been identified in the cytoplasm of apoptotic mammalian cells. This paper investigates whether ASP is found in Xenopus thymus tumor-derived lymphoid cell lines undergoing apoptosis and also in apoptotic, nontransformed splenocytes. Cultured Xenopus tumor lymphoid cells induced to undergo apoptosis by serum deprivation or treatment with the calcium ionophore, ionomycin, displayed altered morphology typical of apoptotic cells, as judged by flow cytometric light-scatter characteristics and by fluorescence microscopy of acridine-orange-stained cells. Flow cytometry of permeabilized cells and fluorescence microscopy of acetone-fixed cytospins revealed that apoptotic Xenopus tumor cells, especially those displaying loss or condensation of DNA, displayed increased expression of epitopes recognized by a rabbit polyclonal antibody against ASP. Flow cytometry confirmed that ASP is also expressed in splenocytes induced to apoptose by culture in ionomycin or following concanavalin A stimulation. No increased expression of ASP was seen when lymphoid tumor cells or splenocytes were induced into necrosis by overdose with the antifungal agent amphotericin B. Western blotting with antibody against ASP identified the emergence of several protein bands in cell lysates from apoptotic, but not necrotic, Xenopus tumor cells. The new and simple methodology for identifying apoptotic cells described here is likely to be of value to those studying immune system development and associated programmed cell death in Xenopus.

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Immunol

Publication Date





333 - 348


Amphotericin B, Animals, Apoptosis, Cytoskeletal Proteins, Flow Cytometry, Ionomycin, Lymphocytes, Spleen, Thymus Neoplasms, Tumor Cells, Cultured, Xenopus laevis