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Microbiology. 2009 Jan;155(Pt 1):268-78. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.022038-0.

In vivo measurement of cytosolic and mitochondrial pH using a pH-sensitive GFP derivative in Saccharomyces cerevisiae reveals a relation between intracellular pH and growth.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Microbial Food Safety, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS), University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The specific pH values of cellular compartments affect virtually all biochemical processes, including enzyme activity, protein folding and redox state. Accurate, sensitive and compartment-specific measurements of intracellular pH (pHi) dynamics in living cells are therefore crucial to the understanding of stress response and adaptation. We used the pH-sensitive GFP derivative 'ratiometric pHluorin' expressed in the cytosol and in the mitochondrial matrix of growing Saccharomyces cerevisiae to assess the variation in cytosolic pH (pHcyt) and mitochondrial pH (pHmit) in response to nutrient availability, respiratory chain activity, shifts in environmental pH and stress induced by addition of sorbic acid. The in vivo measurement allowed accurate determination of organelle-specific pH, determining a constant pHcyt of 7.2 and a constant pHmit of 7.5 in cells exponentially growing on glucose. We show that pHcyt and pHmit are differentially regulated by carbon source and respiratory chain inhibitors. Upon glucose starvation or sorbic acid stress, pHi decrease coincided with growth stasis. Additionally, pHi and growth coincided similarly in recovery after addition of glucose to glucose-starved cultures or after recovery from a sorbic acid pulse. We suggest a relation between pHi and cellular energy generation, and therefore a relation between pHi and growth.

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