Interrelationships of endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, intermediate filaments, and microtubules—a quadruple fluorescence labeling study
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To study the interrelationships of endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, intermediate filaments, and microtubules, we have developed a quadruple fluorescence labeling procedure to visualize all four structures in the same cell. We applied this approach to study cellular organization in control cells and in cells treated with the microtubule drugs vinblastine or taxol. Endoplasmic reticulum was visualized by staining glutaraldehyde-fixed cells with the dye 3,3'-dihexyloxacarbocyanine iodide. After detergent permeabilization, triple immunofluorescence was carried out to specifically visualize mitochondria, vimentin intermediate filaments, and microtubules. Mitochondria in human fibroblasts were found to be highly elongated tubular structures (lengths up to greater than 50 microns), which in many cases were apparently fused to each other. Mitochondria were always observed to be associated with endoplasmic reticulum, although endoplasmic reticulum also existed independently. Intermediate filament distribution could not completely account for endoplasmic reticulum or mitochondrial distributions. Microtubules, however, always codistributed with these organelles. Microtubule depolymerization in vinblastine treated cells resulted in coaggregation of endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria, and in the collapse of intermediate filaments. The spatial distributions of organelles compared with intermediate filaments were not identical, indicating that attachment of organelles to intermediate filaments was not responsible for organelle aggregation. Mitochondrial associations with endoplasmic reticulum, on the other hand, were retained, indicating this association was stable regardless of endoplasmic reticulum form or microtubules. In taxol-treated cells, endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, and intermediate filaments were all associated with taxol-stabilized microtubule bundles.
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