Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
ACS Chem Biol. 2013 Mar 15;8(3):636-42. doi: 10.1021/cb300396j. Epub 2013 Jan 7.

Novel acid-activated fluorophores reveal a dynamic wave of protons in the intestine of Caenorhabditis elegans.

Author information

Department of Medicinal Chemistry, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


Unlike the digestive systems of vertebrate animals, the lumen of the alimentary canal of Caenorhabditis elegans is unsegmented and weakly acidic (pH ~4.4), with ultradian fluctuations to pH > 6 every 45-50 s. To probe the dynamics of this acidity, we synthesized novel acid-activated fluorophores termed Kansas Reds. These dicationic derivatives of rhodamine B become concentrated in the lumen of the intestine of living C. elegans and exhibit tunable pKa values (2.3-5.4), controlled by the extent of fluorination of an alkylamine substituent, that allow imaging of a range of acidic fluids in vivo. Fluorescence video microscopy of animals freely feeding on these fluorophores revealed that acidity in the C. elegans intestine is discontinuous; the posterior intestine contains a large acidic segment flanked by a smaller region of higher pH at the posterior-most end. Remarkably, during the defecation motor program, this hot spot of acidity rapidly moves from the posterior intestine to the anterior-most intestine where it becomes localized for up to 7 s every 45-50 s. Studies of pH-insensitive and base-activated fluorophores as well as mutant and transgenic animals revealed that this dynamic wave of acidity requires the proton exchanger PBO-4, does not involve substantial movement of fluid, and likely involves the sequential activation of proton transporters on the apical surface of intestinal cells. Lacking a specific organ that sequesters low pH, C. elegans compartmentalizes acidity by producing of a dynamic hot spot of protons that rhythmically migrates from the posterior to anterior intestine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for American Chemical Society Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center