Intracellular pH measurement using single excitation-dual emission fluorescence ratios

S. Bassnett, L. Reinisch, D. C. Beebe

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In the present paper, laser spectroscopy was used to evaluate the utility of a new fluorochrome, carboxyseminaphthorhodafluor-1 (Snarf-1), for single excitation-dual emission ratio measurement of intracellular pH (pH(i)). The emission spectrum of Snarf-1 showed clear pH-dependent shifts, and emission ratios calculated from the 640 and 587 nm maxima were a sensitive indicator of pH. When irradiated in Cunningham chambers, solutions of Snarf-1 were rapidly bleached, and at pH 7.3 or higher, this bleaching led to a decrease in the 640/587 nm emission ratio. These ratio changes were also observed in intracellular measurements on lens embryonic epithelial cells under conditions in which the entrapped dye was rapidly bleached. As the laser dosage was reduced (by increasing the step size between sample points), bleaching could be reduced to very low levels, and under these conditions, the ratio remained constant. Snarf-1 loaded into lens epithelial explants was calibrated intracellularly using nigericin. Intracellular calibration curves were shifted to more alkaline values than in vitro curves. Intracellular calibration allowed estimates of pH(i) that were in reasonable agreement with previously published values for lens tissue. Potential artifacts arising from differential photobleaching and intracellular-in vitro calibration are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)C171-C178
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number1 27-1
StatePublished - 1990


  • carboxy-seminaphthorhodafluor-1
  • chicken embryo
  • lens


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