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Biophys J. 1995 Nov;69(5):1964-71.

Leakage of membrane vesicle contents: determination of mechanism using fluorescence requenching.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of California, Irvine 92717-4560, USA.


Agents such as antimicrobial peptides and toxins can permeabilize membrane vesicles to cause leakage of entrapped contents in either a graded or an all-or-none fashion. Determination of which mode of leakage is induced is an important step in understanding the molecular mechanism of membrane permeabilization. Wimley et al. (1994, Protein Sci. 3:1362-1378) have developed a fluorescence method for distinguishing the two modes that makes use of the dye/quencher pair 8-aminonapthalene-1,3,6 trisulfonic acid (ANTS)/p-xylene-bis-pyridinium bromide (DPX) without the usual need for the physical separation of vesicles from released contents. Their "requenching" method establishes the mode of release through the fluorescence changes that occur when DPX is added externally to a solution of vesicles that have released some fraction of their contents. However, the requenching method as originally stated ignored the possibility of preferential release of dye or quencher. Here we extend the theory of the method to take into account preferential release and the effects of graded leakage. The ratio of the rates of release of the cationic quencher DPX and anionic dye 8-aminonapthalene-1,3,6 trisulfonic acid can be estimated by means of the theory. For graded leakage, we show that the release of the markers does not coincide with the fluorescence changes observed in the standard leakage assay. This is true for self-quenching dyes as well and means that 1) the amount of released material will be overestimated and 2) the kinetics will be nonexponential and have artificially high apparent rates. We show how the extended requenching analysis allows the results of leakage experiments to be corrected for artifacts that result from graded and preferential leakage. Experimental evidence is presented for the existence of peptide-induced preferential graded leakage of DPX from both neutral and anionic vesicles.

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