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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jul 19;102(29):10159-64. Epub 2005 Jul 7.

Single-cell Raman and fluorescence microscopy reveal the association of lipid bodies with phagosomes in leukocytes.

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Biophysical Engineering Group, Faculty of Science and Technology, Institute for Biomedical Technology, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE, Enschede, The Netherlands.


Cellular imaging techniques based on vibrational spectroscopy have become powerful tools in cell biology because the molecular composition of subcellular compartments can be visualized without the need for labeling. Using high-resolution, nonresonant confocal Raman microscopy on individual cells, we demonstrate here that lipid bodies (LBs) rich in arachidonate as revealed by their Raman spectra associate with latex bead-containing phagosomes in neutrophilic granulocytes. This finding was corroborated in macrophages and in PLB-985 cells, which can be induced to differentiate into neutrophil-like cells, by selective staining of LBs and visualization by confocal fluorescence microscopy. We further show that the accumulation of LBs near phagosomes is mediated at least in part by the flavohemoprotein gp91phox (in which "phox" is phagocyte oxidase), because different LB distributions around phagocytosed latex beads were observed in WT and gp91phox-deficient PLB-985 cells. gp91phox, which accumulates in the phagosomal membrane, is the catalytic subunit of the leukocyte NADPH oxidase, a critical enzyme in the innate immune response. Finally, time-lapse fluorescence microscopy experiments on neutrophils revealed that the LB-phagosome association is transient, similar to the "kiss-and-run" behavior displayed by endosomes involved in phagosome maturation. Because arachidonic acid (AA) has been shown to be involved in NADPH oxidase activation and phagosome maturation in neutrophils and macrophages, respectively, the findings reported here suggest that LBs may provide a reservoir of AA for local activation of these essential leukocyte functions.

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