Atomic force microscopy study of early morphological changes during apoptosis

Jessica A. Hessler, Andrew Budor, Krishna Putchakayala, Almut Mecke, Daniel Rieger, Mark M.Banaszak Holl, Bradford G. Orr, Anna Bielinska, James Beals, James R. Baker

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Apoptosis is defined by a distinct set of morphological changes observed during cell death including loss of focal adhesions, the formation of cell membrane buds or blebs, and a decrease in total cell volume. Recent studies suggest that these dramatic morphological changes, particularly apoptotic volume decrease (AVD), are an early prerequisite to apoptosis and precede key biochemical time-points. Here we use atomic force microscopy to observe early stage AVD of KB cells undergoing staurosporine-induced apoptosis. After a 3-h exposure to 1 μM staurosporine, a 32% decrease in total cell height and a 50% loss of total cell volume is observed accompanied by only a 15% change in cell diameter. The observed AVD precedes key biochemical hallmarks of apoptosis such as loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, phosphatidyl serine translocation, nuclear fragmentation, and measurable caspase-3 activity. This suggests that morphological volume changes occur very early in the induction of apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9280-9286
Number of pages7
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes

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