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Digitonin (Apollo Cat. No. BID3301; CAS No. 11024-24-1) is a steroidal saponin, obtained from the seeds of the foxglove plant Digitalis purpurea (Plantaginaceae). Saponins have been historically used as non-ionic detergents to increase cell membrane permeabilization and to allow for various molecules to reach key organelles such as the cytoplasm or nuclei.

Molecular structure of Digitonin
Catalogue number: BID3301
CAS number: 11024-24-1
Formula weight: 1229.31
Hazard: Toxic/Hygroscopic/Store under Argon/Light Sensitive
500mg £65.00
1g £110.00
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The strong functionality of digitonin and its versatile advantages have meant they have a wide range of applications in the biomedical field. Digitonin has a strong lytic activity on numerous biological membranes and cytotoxic activity against several cancer cell lines. Like many saponins, Digitonin increases permeability of biological membranes and disperses membrane-bound proteins (1). Recent literature has also suggested Digitonin may also act as a competitive inhibitor for P-glycoprotein, which is an essential protein in cancer therapy (2).

A fundamental property of digitonin which enables its biochemical functions is its strong affinity for cholesterol, as it is able to form water-insoluble complexes, named ‘digitonides’ with cholesterol and other steroids – this allows digitonin to spontaneously incorporate into the cell membrane due to the lipophilic nature of the aglycone part of its molecular structure (3). Consequently, these formed complexes amass in the membrane, decreasing freely a ccessible cholesterol which would otherwise be capable of interacting with receptors and other membrane compounds (4).

Digitonin can be used in immunohistochemistry studies, as it does not denature proteins and can be considered as a mild surfactant as they are able to break lipid-lipid and protein-lipid associations (5). This helps preserve the target protein’s full functionality as they can be sequestered and solubilized in their native forms (6).

Digitonin is also remarkably suited for protocols involving fluorescent microscopy or flow cytometry for the immunohistochemical permeabilization of target cells. It is able to provoke pore sizes to increase to facilitate the passing of antibodies, without having to completely dissolve the plasma membrane (7).

In addition, the extended applications of digitonin within the biomedical and diagnostic sector notably include its use in cell permeabilization to study epithelial and mesenchymal cell responses (8), proteinase K protection assays (9), autophagy and apoptosis (10) and immunoprecipitation experiments.

Apollo offers high quality research grade digitonin readily available from stock at competitive prices. We can dispatch immediately (next day) within the UK. We can provide samples and offer considerable discounts on bulk requests. Enquire now.

1. Matsubayashi, L. Iwai, T. Toda, Q.R. Lu, H. Kawasaki. Immunostaining for oligodendrocyte-specific galactosphingolipids in fixed brain sections using the cholesterol-selective detergent digitonin J. Neurosci. Methods, 178 (2009), pp. 87–98.
2. Y. Eid, M.Z. El-Readi, E. Eldin, S.H. Fatani, M. Wink. Influence of combinations of digitonin with selected phenolics, terpenoids, and alkaloids on the expression and activity of P-glycoprotein in leukaemia and colon cancer cells. Phytomedicine, 21 (2013), pp. 47–61.
3. Nishikawa, M.; Nojima, S.; Akiyama, T.; Sankawa, U.; Inoue, K. Interaction of digitonin and its analogs with membrane cholesterol. J. Biochem. 1984, 96, 1231–1239.
4. Y Paila, T. J. Pucadyil, & A. Chattopadhyay The cholesterol-complexing agent digitonin modulates ligand binding of the bovine hippocampal serotonin1A receptor Molecular Membrane Biology, 2005; 22(3): 241/249.
5. Johnson. Detergents: Triton X-100, Tween-20, and More. MATER METHODS 2013;3:163 DOI//dx.doi.org/10.13070/mm.en.3.163 last modified: 2016-11-01.
6. Held, Sample Preparation for Fluorescence Microscopy: An Introduction - Concepts and Tips for Better Fixed Sample Imaging Results 2015.
7. Abcam. Permeabilization for IHC ; Flow Cytometry intracellular staining protocol.
8. Stamm I, Mohr M, Bridger P, Schröpfer E, König M, Stoffregen W, et al. Epithelial and mesenchymal cells in the bovine colonic mucosa differ in their responsiveness to Escherichia coli Shiga toxin 1. Infect Immun. 2008;76:5381-91.
9. Chaudhuri D, Sancak Y, Mootha V, Clapham D. MCU encodes the pore conducting mitochondrial calcium currents. elife. 2013;2:e00704.
10. Altman B, Wofford J, Zhao Y, Coloff J, Ferguson E, Wieman H, et al. Autophagy provides nutrients but can lead to Chop-dependent induction of Bim to sensitize growth factor-deprived cells to apoptosis. Mol Biol Cell. 2009;20:1180-91
11. Lee B, Moon J, Shu J, Yuan L, Newman Z, Schekman R, et al. UNC93B1 mediates differential trafficking of endosomal TLRs. elife. 2013;2:e00291.
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