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Sci. STKE, 9 March 2004
Vol. 2004, Issue 223, p. pl7
[DOI: 10.1126/stke.2232004pl7]


Monitoring Apoptosis with Fluorescent Zn2+-Indicators

Eiichi Kimura1*, Ryoko Takasawa2, Sei-ichi Tanuma2,3, and Shin Aoki3*

1Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University, 1-7-1 Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima 739-8521, Japan.
2Genome and Drug Research Center, Tokyo University of Science, 2641 Yamazaki, Noda 278-8510, Japan.
3Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tokyo University of Science, 2641 Yamazaki, Noda 278-8510, Japan.

Abstract: Apoptosis, a mechanism of programmed cell death that removes superfluous and harmful cells, is important both during development and in tissue homeostasis. Although Zn2+ is believed to be critical in apoptosis, the precise details of its role have yet to be elucidated. The macrocyclic Zn2+ ligand dansylamidoethylcyclen [L1•(HCl)4•(H2O)2], which is found primarily in a diprotonated form (H2L1), is cell-permeable and forms a strongly fluorescent 1:1 Zn2+ complex when Zn2+ entry into cells is facilitated by the Zn2+ ionophore pyrithione. H2L1 can be used to readily identify HeLa cells undergoing the early stages of etoposide-induced apoptosis because of the increased level of free Zn2+ that occurs at this time. The selectivity of H2L1 for the detection of apoptotic cells was verified by a conventional probe for apoptosis, annexin V-Cy3. Here, we describe methods for detecting apoptotic cells with H2L1 and for comparing detection of apoptosis with H2L1 to detection with annexin V-Cy3 and Zinquin.

*Corresponding authors. E-mail: ekimura{at}, shinaoki{at}

Citation: E. Kimura, R. Takasawa, S.-i. Tanuma, S. Aoki, Monitoring Apoptosis with Fluorescent Zn2+-Indicators. Sci. STKE 2004, pl7 (2004).

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