Monitoring changes in membrane polarity, membrane integrity, and intracellular ion concentrations in Streptococcus pneumoniae using fluorescent dyes

Emily A. Clementi, Laura R. Marks, Hazeline Roche-Håkansson, Anders P. Håkansson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Membrane depolarization and ion fluxes are events that have been studied extensively in biological systems due to their ability to profoundly impact cellular functions, including energetics and signal transductions. While both fluorescent and electrophysiological methods, including electrode usage and patch-clamping, have been well developed for measuring these events in eukaryotic cells, methodology for measuring similar events in microorganisms have proven more challenging to develop given their small size in combination with the more complex outer surface of bacteria shielding the membrane. During our studies of death-initiation in Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), we wanted to elucidate the role of membrane events, including changes in polarity, integrity, and intracellular ion concentrations Searching the literature, we found that very few studies exist. Other investigators had monitored radioisotope uptake or equilibrium to measure ion fluxes and membrane potential and a limited number of studies, mostly in Gram-negative organisms, had seen some success using carbocyanine or oxonol fluorescent dyes to measure membrane potential, or loading bacteria with cell-permeant acetoxymethyl (AM) ester versions of ion-sensitive fluorescent indicator dyes. We therefore established and optimized protocols for measuring membrane potential, rupture, and ion-transport in the Gram-positive organism S. pneumoniae. We developed protocols using the bis-oxonol dye DiBAC4(3) and the cell-impermeant dye propidium iodide to measure membrane depolarization and rupture, respectively, as well as methods to optimally load the pneumococci with the AM esters of the ratiometric dyes Fura-2, PBFI, and BCECF to detect changes in intracellular concentrations of Ca2+, K+, and H+, respectively, using a fluorescence-detection plate reader These protocols are the first of their kind for the pneumococcus and the majority of these dyes have not been used in any other bacterial species. Though our protocols have been optimized for S. pneumoniae, we believe these approaches should form an excellent starting-point for similar studies in other bacterial species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere51008
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number84
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 17 2014

Keywords

  • Acetoxymethyl (AM) ester
  • Bacterial ion concentrations
  • DiBAC
  • Immunology
  • Ion transport
  • Ion-sensitive fluorescence
  • Issue 84
  • Membrane rupture
  • Pneumococcus
  • Potential-sensitive dyes
  • Propidium iodide
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae

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