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Histochemistry. 1985;82(1):51-66.

[Hydrophobic acridine dyes for fluorescent staining of mitochondria in living cells. 3. Specific accumulation of the fluorescent dye NAO on the mitochondrial membranes in HeLa cells by hydrophobic interaction. Depression of respiratory activity, changes in the ultrastructure of mitochondria due to NAO. Increase of fluorescence in vital stained mitochondria in situ by irradiation].

[Article in German]


The hydrophobic fluorescence dye 10-n-nonyl-acridinium-orange-chloride, NAO, stains specifically the mitochondria of living HeLa-cells. A dye concentration of 1 X 10(-8) M is sufficient for vital staining and at 5 X 10(-7) M an incubation time less than 1 min is enough to generate the bright green fluorescence of the mitochondria. The retention of NAO by the mitochondria is longer than 7 days. The dye accumulation is not affected by the ionophores valinomycin, nigericin, gramicidin, the uncoupling agents DNP, CCCP or by ouabain. In contrast to Rh 123 the trans-membrane potential is not the driving force of the NAO accumulation. We assume that NAO is bound to the hydrophobic lipids and proteins in the mitochondrial membranes by hydrophobic interaction. With valinomycin, 500 ng/ml, 10 min, the mitochondria in HeLa-cells swell. Now it is possible to observe some details in the enlarged mitochondria by light microscopy. After vital staining with NAO, 5 X 10(-7) M, 10 min, the periphery of the swollen mitochondria shows an intense green fluorescence, the inner part is dark. Obviously the dye is bound to the membranes. By electron microscopy it can be shown that the valinomycin treated and NAO stained mitochondria have outer and inner membranes and cristae. They differ from untreated mitochondria mainly in the size. After incubation of the HeLa-cells with relatively high NAO concentrations, 5 X 10(-6) M, 10 min, the mitochondria show a weak orange fluorescence. It is generated by the dimers D of NAO. Therefore the dye concentration in the mitochondrial membranes is locally very high and causes dye dimerisation. The weak orange fluorescence is instable and disappears within a few seconds. Instead we observe a green fluorescence with growing intensity that is generated by the monomers M of NAO. The intensity has its maximum value after a few seconds. Using low NAO concentrations for incubation, 1 X 10(-7) M, 10 min, we observe only the green fluorescence with increasing intensity. In this case the orange fluorescence is too weak for observation (concentration quenching). It can be shown by experiments and quantum mechanics that the orange fluorescence is assigned to an optical forbidden, the green fluorescence to an allowed electronic transition of D or M respectively. Our results indicate a dissoziation of D in 2 M by irradiation of the mitochondria under the fluorescence microscope.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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