A fluorescent lipid analogue can be used to monitor secretory activity and for isolation of mammalian secretion mutants

N. T. Ktistakis, C. Y. Kao, R. H. Wang, M. G. Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The use of reporter proteins to study the regulation of secretion has often been complicated by posttranslational processing events that influence the secretion of certain proteins, but are not part of the cellular mechanisms that specifically regulate secretion. This has been a particular limitation for the isolation of mammalian secretion mutants, which has typically been a slow process. To provide a reporter of secretory activity independent of protein processing events, cells were labeled with the fluorescent lipid analogue C5-DMB-ceramide (ceramide coupled to the fluorophore boron dipyrromethene difluoride) and its secretion was followed by fluorescence microscopy and fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Brefeldin A, which severely inhibits secretion in Chinese hamster ovary cells, blocked secretion of C5-DMB-ceramide. At high temperature, export of C5-DMB- ceramide was inhibited in HRP-1 cells, which have a conditional defect in secretion. Using C5-DMB-ceramide as a reporter of secretory activity, several different pulse-chase protocols were designed that selected mutant Chinese hamster ovary cells that were resistant to the drug brefeldin A and others that were defective in the transport of glycoproteins to the cell surface. Mutant cells of either type were identified in a mutagenized population at a frequency of 10-6. Thus, the fluorescent lipid C5-DMB- ceramide can be used as a specific marker of secretory activity, providing an efficient, general approach for isolating mammalian cells with defects in the secretory pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-150
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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