SYTO probes are gaining momentum as reliable and easy to use markers of apoptotic cell death, but the phenomenon underlying reduced SYTO fluorescence in apoptotic cells as compared with normal cells is still not fully elucidated. Herein, we attempt to provide further insights into mechanisms of reduced SYTO16 fluorescence during apoptosis.
Human follicular lymphoma cell lines were subjected to diverse apoptotic and oncotic stimuli with subsequent multiparametric flow cytometric and fluorescence imaging analysis. SYTO green (SYTO11-16), TMRM, PI, 7AAD, and Hoechst 33342 probes were applied for multivariate analysis of temporal sequence of apoptotic events. Sorting of cells differing in the level of SYTO16 fluorescence and subsequent characterization of obtained subpopulations were also performed.
Loss of SYTO16 fluorescence (SYTOlow/PI+ events) has been observed in cells exposed to oncotic stimuli, whereas SYTOhigh/PI+ events did not prevail at any treatment scenario. We tracked similarities and discrepancies between SYTO16 and TMRM probes. Often, SYTO16 and TMRM exhibited the same staining profiles, as loss of their fluorescence was detected in a single cell population. However, both mitochondrial uncoupler FCCP and a small-molecule Bcl-2 inhibitor, HA14-1, appeared to induce distinct staining profiles of SYTO16 and TMRM, with the decrease in TMRM fluorescence preceding the loss of SYTO16 fluorescence. Importantly, in both cases (FCCP and HA14-1) the decrease of SYTO16 fluorescence was blocked by pharmacological inhibition of caspases (with z-VAD-fmk).
The data demonstrate that loss of SYTO16 is caspase-dependent, as is not a mere indicator of Δψm dissipation. Commonly observed similarities between SYTO and TMRM may stem from the fast kinetics of apoptotic events once cell death is initiated. © 2007 International Society for Analytical Cytology.