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Development of a fluorescence-based cellular apoptosis reporter

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Original languageEnglish
JournalMethods and Applications in Fluorescence
Early online date10 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2018


Evasion of apoptosis is a hallmark of human cancer, and a desired endpoint of many anticancer agents is the induction of cell death. With the heterogeneity of cancer becoming increasingly apparent, to understand drug mechanisms of action and identify combination therapies in cell populations, the development of tools to assess drug effects at the single cell level is a necessity for future preclinical drug development. Herein we describe the development of pCasFSwitch, a genetically encoded reporter construct designed to identify cells undergoing caspase-3 mediated apoptosis, by a translocation of a GFP signal from the cell membrane into the nucleus. Anticipated cellular distribution was demonstrated by use of confocal microscopy and cleavage by caspase-3 was shown to be required for the translocation of the GFP signal seen in apoptotic cells. Quantification of apoptosis using the construct revealed similar levels
to that obtained with a commercially available apoptosis imaging agent (22.6 % versus 20.3%). Moreover, we demonstrated its capacity for use in a high-throughput setting making it a powerful tool for drug development pipelines.

    Research areas

  • apoptosis, caspase, fluorescence

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