Differentiation of promyelocytic (HL-60) cells into mature granulocytes: mitochondrial-specific rhodamine 123 fluorescence

J Cell Biol. 1983 Jan;96(1):94-9. doi: 10.1083/jcb.96.1.94.


Rhodamine 123, a fluorescent dye which binds as a result of the transmembrane potential, was used to stain the mitochondria of HL-60 cells, a cell line established from human promelocytic leukemia cells. The DMSO-induced differentiation of promyelocytic cells into mature granulocytes caused a fourfold decrease in fluorescence intensity that paralleled the disappearance of S-phase and G2M cells. This suggests that upon myeloid differentiation whereby the cells enter an irreversible quiescent state, the mitochondrial mass of the cells has decreased. This suggestion is corroborated by electron microscopy, which shows a decrease in the number of mitochondria, and by decreases in total mitochondrial protein and cytochrome oxidase activity. The respiratory rate of isolated mitochondria did not change, suggesting that the transmembrane potential remained the same. Undifferentiated cells in exponential phase of growth exhibit an intracellular heterogeneity of fluorescence intensity. This heterogeneity appears to have a cell age basis, as late S/G2M cells, obtained by centrifugal elutriation, yielded twice the fluorescence intensity of early G1 cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Separation
  • Cell Survival
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Granulocytes / ultrastructure*
  • Hematopoiesis*
  • Humans
  • Interphase
  • Leukemia, Myeloid
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure*
  • Mitosis
  • Rhodamines


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Rhodamines
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide