Detection of intracellular phosphatidylserine in living cells

J Neurochem. 2008 Mar;104(5):1271-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2007.05079.x. Epub 2007 Nov 17.


To demonstrate the intracellular phosphatidylserine (PS) distribution in neuronal cells, neuroblastoma cells and hippocampal neurons expressing green fluorescence protein (GFP)-AnnexinV were stimulated with a calcium ionophore and localization of GFP-AnnexinV was monitored by fluorescence microscopy. Initially, GFP-AnnexinV distributed evenly in the cytosol and nucleus. Raising the intracellular calcium level with ionomycin-induced translocation of cytoplasmic GFP-AnnexinV to the plasma membrane but not to the nuclear membrane, indicating that PS distributes in the cytoplasmic side of the plasma membrane. Nuclear GFP-AnnexinV subsequently translocated to the nuclear membrane, indicating PS localization in the nuclear envelope. GFP-AnnexinV also localized in a juxtanuclear organelle that was identified as the recycling endosome. However, minimal fluorescence was detected in any other subcellular organelles including mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi complex, and lysosomes, strongly suggesting that PS distribution in the cytoplasmic face in these organelles is negligible. Similarly, in hippocampal primary neurons PS distributed in the inner leaflet of plasma membranes of cell body and dendrites, and in the nuclear envelope. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of intracellular PS localization in living cells, providing an insight for specific sites of PS interaction with soluble proteins involved in signaling processes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / chemistry
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Fluid / chemistry*
  • Intracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylserines / analysis*
  • Phosphatidylserines / metabolism
  • Rats


  • Phosphatidylserines