Vol 49, No 2 (2011)
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Published online: 2011-07-11

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Characteristics of weak base-induced vacuoles formed around individual acidic organelles

Hiromi Hiruma, Tadashi Kawakami
DOI: 10.5603/FHC.2011.0038
Folia Histochem Cytobiol 2011;49(2):272-279.


We have previously found that the weak base 4-aminopyridine induces Brownian motion of acidic organelles around which vacuoles are formed, causing organelle traffic disorder in neurons. Our present study investigated the characteristics of vacuoles induced by weak bases (NH4Cl, aminopyridines, and chloroquine) using mouse cells. Individual vacuoles included acidic organelles identified by fluorescent protein expression. Mitochondria and actin filaments were extruded outside the vacuoles, composing the vacuole rim. Staining with amine-reactive fluorescence showed no protein/amino acid content in vacuoles. Thus, serous vacuolar contents are probably partitioned by viscous cytosol, other organelles, and cytoskeletons, but not membrane. The weak base (chloroquine) was immunochemically detected in intravacuolar organelles, but not in vacuoles. Early vacuolization was reversible, but long-term vacuolization caused cell death. The vacuolization and cell death were blocked by the vacuolar H+-ATPase inhibitor and Cl–-free medium. Staining with LysoTracker or LysoSensor indicated that intravacuolar organelles were strongly acidic and vacuoles were slightly acidic. This suggests that vacuolization is caused by accumulation of weak base and H+ in acidic organelles, driven by vacuolar H+-ATPase associated with Cl entering, and probably by subsequent extrusion of H+ and water from organelles to the surrounding cytoplasm. (Folia Histochemica et Cytobiologica 2011; Vol. 49, No. 2, pp. 272–279)

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