Use of LysoTracker dyes: A flow cytometric study of autophagy

Authors

  • Shaheen Chikte,

    1. Flow Cytometry Core Facility, The Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London University, London, United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Neelam Panchal,

    1. Flow Cytometry Core Facility, The Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London University, London, United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Gary Warnes

    Corresponding author
    1. Flow Cytometry Core Facility, The Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London University, London, United Kingdom
    • Correspondence to: Gary Warnes, The Flow Cytometry Core Facility, The Blizard Institute, Barts and London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London University, 4 Newark Street, London E1 2AT, United Kingdom. E-mail: g.warnes@qmul.ac.uk

    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

The flow cytometric use of LysoTracker dyes was employed to investigate the autophagic process and to compare this with the upregulation of autophagy marker, the microtubule-associated protein LC3B. Although the mechanism of action of LysoTracker dyes is not fully understood, they have been used in microscopy to image acidic spherical organelles, and their use in flow cytometry has not been thoroughly investigated in the study of autophagy. This investigation uses numerous autophagy-inducing agents including chloroquine (CQ), rapamycin, low serum (<1%) RPMI, and nutrient starvation to induce autophagy in Jurkat T-cell leukemia and K562 erythromyeloid cell lines. LC3B showed an increase with CQ treatment although this was different to LysoTracker signals in terms of dose and time. Rapamycin, low serum (<1%) RPMI, and nutrient starvation induction of autophagy also induced an increase in LysoTracker and LC3B signals. CQ also induced apoptosis in cell lines, which was blocked by pan-caspase inhibitor z-VAD resulting in a reduction in cells undergoing apoptosis and a subsequent upregulation of autophagic markers LC3B and lysosomal dye signals. Given that LC3B and LysoTracker are measuring different biological events in the autophagic process, they surprisingly both upregulated during autophagic process. This study, however, shows that although LysoTracker dyes do not specifically label lysosomes or autophagosomes within the cell, they allow the simultaneous measurement of an autophagy-related process and other live-cell functions, which are not possible with the standard LC3B antibody-labeling technique. This method has the advantage of other live-cell LCB-GFP-tagged experiments in that be used to analyze patient cells as well as easier to use and significantly less costly. © 2013 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry

Ancillary