Simultaneous pH measurement in endocytic and cytosolic compartments in living cells using confocal microscopy

Fabrice Lucien, Kelly Harper, Pierre Paul Pelletier, Leonid Volkov, Claire M. Dubois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Intracellular pH is tightly regulated and differences in pH between the cytoplasm and organelles have been reported1. Regulation of cellular pH is crucial for homeostatic control of physiological processes that include: protein, DNA and RNA synthesis, vesicular trafficking, cell growth and cell division. Alterations in cellular pH homeostasis can lead to detrimental functional changes and promote progression of various diseases2. Various methods are available for measuring intracellular pH but very few of these allow simultaneous measurement of pH in the cytoplasm and in organelles. Here, we describe in detail a rapid and accurate method for the simultaneous measurement of cytoplasmic and organellar pH by using confocal microscopy on living cells3. This goal is achieved with the use of two pH-sensing ratiometric dyes that possess selective cellular compartment partitioning. For instance, SNARF-1 is compartmentalized inside the cytoplasm whereas HPTS is compartmentalized inside endosomal/lysosomal organelles. Although HPTS is commonly used as a cytoplasmic pH indicator, this dye can specifically label vesicles along the endosomal-lysosomal pathway after being taken up by pinocytosis3, 4. Using these pH-sensing probes, it is possible to simultaneously measure pH within the endocytic and cytoplasmic compartments. The optimal excitation wavelength of HPTS varies depending on the pH while for SNARF-1, it is the optimal emission wavelength that varies. Following loading with SNARF-1 and HPTS, cells are cultured in different pH-calibrated solutions to construct a pH standard curve for each probe. Cell imaging by confocal microscopy allows elimination of artifacts and background noise. Because of the spectral properties of HPTS, this probe is better suited for measurement of the mildly acidic endosomal compartment or to demonstrate alkalinization of the endosomal/lysosomal organelles. This method simplifies data analysis, improves accuracy of pH measurements and can be used to address fundamental questions related to pH modulation during cell responses to external challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number86
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 28 2014

Keywords

  • Biochemistry
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Cytosolic pH
  • Endosomes
  • Fluorescence
  • Intravesicular pH
  • Issue 86
  • Live cell imaging
  • Lysosomes
  • Ratiometric pH probes
  • pH measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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