Quantifying nuclear p65 as a parameter for NF-κB activation: Correlation between ImageStream cytometry, microscopy, and Western blot

Cytometry A. 2011 Jun;79(6):461-9. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.21068. Epub 2011 Apr 25.


The nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) pathway, which regulates many cellular processes including proliferation, apoptosis, and survival, has emerged as an important therapeutic target in cancer. Activation of the NF-κB transcription factor is associated with nuclear translocation of the p65 component of the complex. Conventional methods employed to determine nuclear translocation of NF-κB either lack statistical robustness (microscopy) or the ability to discern heterogeneity within the sampled populations (Western blotting and Gel Shift assays). The ImageStream platform combines the high image content information of microscopy with the high throughput and multiparameter analysis of flow cytometry which overcomes the aforementioned limitations of conventional assays. It is demonstrated that ImageStream assessment of receptor-mediated (TNFα) and drug (Daunorubicin, DNR)-induced NF-κB translocation in leukemic cell lines correlates well with microscopy analysis and Western blot analysis. It is further demonstrated that ImageStream cytometry enables quantitative assessment of p65 translocation in immunophenotypically defined subpopulations; and that this assessment is highly reproducible. It is also demonstrated that, quantitatively, the DNR-induced nuclear translocation of NF-κB correlates well with a biological response (apoptosis). We conclude that the ImageStream has the potential to be a powerful tool to evaluate NF-κB /p65 activity as a determinant of response to therapies designed to target aberrant NF-κB signaling activities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Daunorubicin / pharmacology
  • Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Transcription Factor RelA* / agonists
  • Transcription Factor RelA* / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology


  • Transcription Factor RelA
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Daunorubicin