Simultaneous measurement of multiple active kinase states using polychromatic flow cytometry

Nat Biotechnol. 2002 Feb;20(2):155-62. doi: 10.1038/nbt0202-155.


Intracellular assays of signaling systems have been limited by an inability to correlate functional subsets of cells in complex populations on the basis of active kinase states. Such correlations could be important in distinguishing changes in signaling status that arise in rare cell subsets during functional activation or in disease manifestation. Here we demonstrate the ability to simultaneously detect activated kinase members of the mitogen-activated protein kinases family (p38 MAPK, p44/42 MAPK, JNK/SAPK), members of cell survival pathways (AKT/PKB), and members of T-cell activation pathways (TYK2), among others, in subpopulations of complex cell populations by multiparameter flow-cytometric analysis. We demonstrate the utility of these probes in identifying distinct signaling cascades for (1) both artificial and physiological stimulatory conditions of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), (2) cytokine stimulation in human memory and naïve lymphocyte subsets as identified by five differentiation markers, and (3) ordering of kinase activation in potential signaling hierarchies. Polychromatic flow-cytometric active kinase measurements demonstrate that multidimensional analysis of signaling pathways can provide functional signaling pathway assessment on a single-cell level and allow for potential correlation with biological and clinical parameters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Biochemistry / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Separation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Jurkat Cells
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System*
  • Mice
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phosphotransferases / chemistry*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Time Factors


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Phosphotransferases