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J Eukaryot Microbiol. 1993 May-Jun;40(3):329-35.

Evaluation of rhodamine 123 as a probe for monitoring mitochondrial function in Trypanosoma brucei spp.

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Department of Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510.


Rhodamine 123, a membrane potential-specific dye, has been evaluated as a probe to monitor the function of the mitochondrion in long slender bloodstream and procyclic trypomastigotes of several Trypanosoma brucei spp. By epifluorescence microscopy, mitochondrial development has been followed in long slender bloodstream and procyclic organisms stained with rhodamine 123. To photograph stained long slender bloodstream forms, it was necessary to develop a method to completely immobilize viable organisms. In both parasite forms, as the cell cycle progressed, the mitochondrion developed from a thread-like structure to a highly branched organelle. A dramatic reorganization occurred preceding cytokinesis to produce two progeny thread-like structures which were partitioned into newly formed daughter cells. The organelle within the long slender trypomastigote was found to stain optimally at 0.3 microgram/ml of rhodamine 123, while the procyclic form required 3.0 micrograms/ml. The results suggest that the plasma membrane potential is higher in the long slender parasite than in the procyclic form. The effects of inhibitors that disrupt mitochondrial function were examined in long slender and procyclic parasites, and some of these agents were shown to affect rhodamine 123 accumulation and retention. In long slender trypomastigotes the trypanosome alternative oxidase does not appear to be coupled to proton pumping, whereas in procyclic organisms the effects of inhibitors indicate that this oxidase may be coupled to a pathway that is branched preceding an antimycin A1-sensitive site.

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