Fluorescent detection of apoptotic cells by using zinc coordination complexes with a selective affinity for membrane surfaces enriched with phosphatidylserine

Chembiochem. 2005 Dec;6(12):2214-20. doi: 10.1002/cbic.200500149.


The appearance of phosphatidylserine on the membrane surface of apoptotic cells (Jurkat, CHO, HeLa) is monitored by using a family of bis(Zn2+-2,2'-dipicolylamine) coordination compounds with appended fluorescein or biotin groups as reporter elements. The phosphatidylserine affinity group is also conjugated directly to a CdSe/CdS quantum dot to produce a probe suitable for prolonged observation without photobleaching. Apoptosis can be detected under a wide variety of conditions, including variations in temperature, incubation time, and binding media. Binding of each probe appears to be restricted to the cell membrane exterior, because no staining of organelles or internal membranes is observed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis*
  • Biotin
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Fluorescein
  • Fluorescent Dyes*
  • Humans
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Phosphatidylserines / analysis*
  • Quantum Dots
  • Zinc


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Phosphatidylserines
  • Biotin
  • Zinc
  • Fluorescein