Functional Imaging of Mitochondria in Saponin-permeabilized Mice Muscle Fibers

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Confocal laser-scanning and digital fluorescence imaging microscopy were used to quantify the mitochondrial autofluorescence changes of NAD(P)H and flavoproteins in unfixed saponin-permeabilized myofibers from mice quadriceps muscle tissue. Addition of mitochondrial substrates, ADP, or cyanide led to redox state changes of the mitochondrial NAD system. These changes were detected by ratio imaging of the autofluorescence intensities of fluorescent flavoproteins and NAD(P)H, showing inverse fluorescence behavior. The flavoprotein signal was colocalized with the potentiometric mitochondria-specific dye dimethylaminostyryl pyridyl methyl iodide (DASPMI), or with MitoTracker™ Green FM, a constitutive marker for mitochondria. Within individual myofibers we detected topological mitochondrial subsets with distinct flavoprotein autofluorescence levels, equally responding to induced rate changes of the oxidative phosphorylation. The flavoprotein autofluorescence levels of these subsets differed by a factor of four. This heterogeneity was substantiated by flow-cytometric analysis of flavoprotein and DASPMI fluorescence changes of individual mitochondria isolated from mice skeletal muscle. Our data provide direct evidence that mitochondria in single myofibers are distinct subsets at the level of an intrinsic fluorescent marker of the mitochondrial NAD-redox system. Under the present experimental conditions these subsets show similar functional responses.

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