Subcellular localization of merocyanine 540 (MC540) and induction of apoptosis in murine myeloid leukemia cells

J. Y. Chen, Nai Ho CHEUNG, M. C. Fung, J. M. Wen, W. N. Leung, Nai Ki MAK*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Subcellular localization of photosensitizers is thought to play a critical role in determining the mode of cell death after photodynamic treatment (PDT) of leukemia cells. Using confocal laser scanning microscopy and fluorescent organelle probes, we examined the subcellular localization of merocyanine 540 (MC540) in the murine myeloid leukemia M1 and WEHI 3B (JCS) cells. Two patterns of localization were observed: in JCS cells, MC540 was found to localize on the plasma membrane and mitochondria; and in M1 leukemia cells, MC540 was found to localize on lysosomes. The relationship between subcellular localization of MC540 and PDT-induced apoptosis was investigated. Apoptotic cell death, as judged by the formation of apoptotic nuclei, was observed 4 h after irradiation in both leukemia cell lines. Typical ladders of apoptotic DNA fragments were also detected by DNA gel electrophoresis in PDT-treated JCS and M1 cells. At the irradiation dose of 46 kJ/m2 (LD90 for JCS and LD86 for M1 cells), the percentage of apoptotic JCS and M1 cells was 78 and 38%, respectively. This study provided substantial evidence that MC540 localized differentially in the mitochondria, and the subsequent photodamage of the organelle played an important role in PDT-mediated apoptosis in myeloid leukemia cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-120
Number of pages7
JournalPhotochemistry and Photobiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2000

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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