The ability of cells to maintain pH homeostasis in response to environmental changes has elicited interest in basic and applied research and has prompted the development of methods for intracellular pH measurements. Many traditional methods provide information at population level and thus the average values of the studied cell physiological phenomena, excluding the fact that cell cultures are very heterogeneous. Single-cell analysis, on the other hand, offers more detailed insight into population variability, thereby facilitating a considerably deeper understanding of cell physiology. Although microscopy methods can address this issue, they suffer from limitations in terms of the small number of individual cells that can be studied and complicated image processing. We developed a noninvasive high-throughput method that employs flow cytometry to analyze large populations of cells that express pHluorin, a genetically encoded ratiometric fluorescent probe that is sensitive to pH. The method described here enables measurement of the intracellular pH of single cells with high sensitivity and speed, which is a clear improvement compared to previously published methods that either require pretreatment of the cells, measure cell populations, or require complex data analysis. The ratios of fluorescence intensities, which correlate to the intracellular pH, are independent of the expression levels of the pH probe, making the use of transiently or extrachromosomally expressed probes possible. We conducted an experiment on the kinetics of the pH homeostasis of Saccharomyces cerevisiae cultures grown to a stationary phase after ethanol or glucose addition and after exposure to weak acid stress and glucose pulse. Minor populations with pH homeostasis behaving differently upon treatments were identified.
- MEMBRANE H+-ATPASE