Cell cycle dependent changes in the plasma membrane organization of mammalian cells
Lipid membranes are major structural elements of all eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. Although many aspects of their biology have been studied extensively, their dynamics and lateral heterogeneity are still not fully understood. Recently, we observed a cell-to-cell variability in the plasma membrane organization of CHO-K1 cells (Schwarzer et al., 2014). We surmised that cell cycle dependent changes of the individual cells from our unsynchronized cell population account for this phenomenon. In the present study, this hypothesis was tested. To this aim, CHO-K1 cells were arrested in different cell cycle phases by chemical treatments, and the order of their plasma membranes was determined by various fluorescent lipid analogues using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy. Our experiments exhibit significant differences in the membrane order of cells arrested in the G2/M or S phase compared to control cells. Our single-cell analysis also enabled the specific selection of mitotic cells, which displayed a significant increase of the membrane order compared to the control. In addition, the lipid raft marker GPImYFP was used to study the lateral organization of cell cycle arrested cells as well as mitotic cells and freely cycling samples. Again, significant differences were found between control and arrested cells and even more pronounced between control and mitotic cells. Our data demonstrate a direct correlation between cell cycle progression and plasma membrane organization, underlining that cell-to-cell heterogeneities of membrane properties have to be taken into account in cellular studies especially at the single-cell level.
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