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A simple and rapid method involving flow cytometry and NO-specific probe (DAF-FM DA) proved useful for detection and determination of intracellular NO production in Medicago truncatula suspension cells and leaves as well as in cells of Avena fatua, Amaranthus retroflexus embryos and leaves. The measurement of nitric oxide (NO) in plant material is important for examining the regulatory roles of endogenous NO in various physiological processes. The possibility of detecting and determining intracellular NO production by flow cytometry (FCM) with 4-amino-5-methylamino-2',7'-difluorofluorescein (DAF-FM DA), an NO-specific probe in Medicago truncatula cells in suspension and leaves as well as in cells of embryos and leaves of Avena fatua L. or Amaranthus retroflexus L. was explored. To detect and measure NO production by cell suspension or embryos and leaves, the recommended DAF-FM DA concentration is 5 or 10 µM, respectively, applied for 30 min. Exogenous NO increased the intensity of the fluorescent signal in embryos and leaves of both plants, while carboxy-PTIO (cPTIO), an NO scavenger, decreased it. Thus, these results demonstrate that NO can be detected and an increase and a decrease of its intracellular level can be estimated. Wounding was observed to increase the fluorescence signal, indicating an increase in the intracellular NO level. In addition, the levels of exogenous and endogenous ascorbic acid were demonstrated to have no effect on the NO-related fluorescence signal, indicating the signal's specificity only in relation with NO. The applicability of the proposed method for detection and determination of NO was confirmed (1) by in situ NO imaging in cell suspensions and (2) by determining the NO concentration in embryos and leaves using the Griess reagent. In view of the data obtained, FCM is recommended as a rapid and simple method with which to detect and determine intracellular NO production in plant cells.


Jan Kępczyński, Danuta Cembrowska-Lech. Application of flow cytometry with a fluorescent dye to measurement of intracellular nitric oxide in plant cells. Planta. 2018 Aug;248(2):279-291

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PMID: 29704056

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