Journal of cell science

A fluorescence enhancement assay of cell fusion.

PMID 202606


Two probes were synthesized which consist of fluorescent molecules conjugated to saturated hydrocarbon chains, 18 carbons long, to ensure their localization into cellular membranes. There is an overlap between the emission spectrum of one probe (donor) and the absorption spectrum of the other probe (acceptor). By the use of appropriate wavelengths it is possible to specifically excite the donor probe and record the fluorescence of the acceptor probe. Two cell populations, each labelled with one of the probes, were infected with a virus that causes cell fusion, mixed in equal proportions, and the fluorescence of the acceptor probe measured as a function of time after infection. An increase in fluorescence was observed beginning at the time of onset of cell fusion indicating a mixing of the fluorescent membrane molecules. An investigation of the distance dependence indicated that the increase in fluorescence was mainly due to resonance energy transfer and not to photon emission and reabsorption. Resonance energy transfer requires that the 2 probes be close together and that there be an overlap of the emission spectrum of the donor probe and the absorption spectrum of the acceptor probe. The possible application of this assay to other types of membrane fusion is noted.

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N′-Octadecylfluorescein-5-thiourea, for fluorescence, ≥98.0% (HPCE)