Immunodetection of outer membrane proteins by flow cytometry of isolated mitochondria

J Vis Exp. 2014 Sep 18;(91):51887. doi: 10.3791/51887.


Methods to detect and monitor mitochondrial outer membrane protein components in animal tissues are vital to study mitochondrial physiology and pathophysiology. This protocol describes a technique where mitochondria isolated from rodent tissue are immunolabeled and analyzed by flow cytometry. Mitochondria are isolated from rodent spinal cords and subjected to a rapid enrichment step so as to remove myelin, a major contaminant of mitochondrial fractions prepared from nervous tissue. Isolated mitochondria are then labeled with an antibody of choice and a fluorescently conjugated secondary antibody. Analysis by flow cytometry verifies the relative purity of mitochondrial preparations by staining with a mitochondrial specific dye, followed by detection and quantification of immunolabeled protein. This technique is rapid, quantifiable and high-throughput, allowing for the analysis of hundreds of thousands of mitochondria per sample. It is applicable to assess novel proteins at the mitochondrial surface under normal physiological conditions as well as the proteins that may become mislocalized to this organelle during pathology. Importantly, this method can be coupled to fluorescent indicator dyes to report on certain activities of mitochondrial subpopulations and is feasible for mitochondria from the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) as well as liver.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis*
  • Mitochondria / chemistry*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / chemistry*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / analysis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spinal Cord / ultrastructure


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins