Visualization of mitochondrial membrane potential in mammalian cells
SourceMethods in Cell Biology, 155, (2020), pp. 221-245
Article / Letter to editor
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Methods in Cell Biology
SubjectRadboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience; Radboudumc 6: Metabolic Disorders RIMLS: Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
Assessment of the mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψ) in living cells, although not trivial, can be used to estimate mitochondrial bioenergetic state. For this purpose, fluorescent lipophilic cations are broadly applied. These cations enter cells and accumulate primarily in the mitochondrial matrix in a Δψ-dependent manner. Here, we describe the use of the cations tetramethylrhodamine methyl ester (TMRM) and rhodamine 123 (Rhod123) for semi-quantitative Δψ analysis in living mammalian cells. Two different strategies are presented: (1) steady-state measurements that are suited to compare Δψ between different conditions (i.e., for comparing disease states or treatments) and (2) dynamic measurements allowing temporal monitoring of Δψ changes (i.e., to assess the effect of acute perturbations). We discuss the rationale for the use of TMRM and Rhod123 in their non-quenching/redistribution and quenching mode, how these modes are associated with different fluorescence responses, and how data can be interpreted. Practically, three experimental protocols are provided describing the use of TMRM and/or Rhod123 to assess Δψ in primary human skin fibroblasts (PHSFs) and neuron/astrocyte co-cultures by live-cell fluorescence microscopy.
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