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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1990 Nov 30;1030(1):73-81.

Internalization of the lipophilic fluorescent probe trimethylamino-diphenylhexatriene follows the endocytosis and recycling of the plasma membrane in cells.

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Laboratorie de Biophysique, Unité Associée 491 au Céntre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Louis Pasteur Strasbourg, Faculté de Pharmacie, Illkirch, France.


The lipophilic fluorescent probe trimethylamino-diphenylhexatriene (TMA-DPH) has been shown previously to behave as a marker of plasma membrane in living cell systems, and it has therefore been widely used in membrane fluidity studies via fluorescence anisotropy measurements. However, progressive internalization of this probe in cells could lead to unsuitable interferences, when long incubations times were required. The mechanism of this internalization had not yet been elucidated. We present here fluorescence-intensity kinetic results and fluorescence micrographic data on L929 cells and on mouse bone-marrow macrophages, which allow us to identify the mechanism as fluid-phase pinocytosis: the probe remains associated with the plasma membrane throughout its internalization-recycling flow and it is finally concentrated in lysosomes. The study was facilitated by the partition equilibrium property of TMA-DPH between plasma membranes and the external aqueous medium, which allowed to immediately distinguish the internalized fraction of the probe from the peripheral labelling, by simply washing cells. This conclusion is confirmed by the features of the influence of temperature on TMA-DPH internalization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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