Quantitative Profiling of Alpha-Subunit of IL-3 Receptor on Single Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cells by Super-Resolution Imaging

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Institute for Synthetic Biology Research, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced, Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen 518055, P.R. China.

2 National Laboratory of Biomacromolecules, CAS center for Excellence in Biomacromolecules, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.


Background: Quantitative profiling of specific cell surface markers is a new approach in characterization of tumor heterogeneity and single cell biology. The current tools have dearth in detection and quantification of receptor proteins on single cells. Methods: we focused on our newly developed protocol to determine the distribution pattern and density of cell surface markers on single acute myeloid leukemia cells. Cell surface proteins were labeled with quantum dots (Qdots) followed by super resolution Structured Illumination Microscopy (SIM) imaging to imprisonment the optical signals emitted by Qdots which were further analyzed by software imaris to do three dimensional (3D) structure reconstruction and digital simulation. Furthermore, MTT assays and flow cytometry was performed to establish association between expression of cell surface markers and drug response. Results: In the present study, we found that the Molm13 and cytarabine-enriched Molm13 cells exhibit different densities of CD123, an alpha-subunit of interleukin-3 receptor, i.e. 0.92 and 1.73 per μm2 of cell surface respectively. Sub-populations of Molm13 cells expressing higher densities of CD123 on cells membranes showed resistance against cytarabine. Further study revealed that romidepsin sensitized and augmented the cytotoxicity of cytarabine in Molm13 and cytarabine-enriched Molm13 cells. Romidepsin increased the percentage of cell death-induced by cytarabine from 21.6 % to 28.6 % and 37.1 % to 57.2 % in Molm13 and cytarabine-enriched Molm13 cells respectively. Conclusion: Altogether, the study suggests that Molm13 cells have sub-populations with differential expression of CD123+ phenotype. Romidepsin sensitizes and augments the effect of cytarabine in Molm13 and cytarabine-enriched Molm13 cells.


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