TitleA molecular rotor FLIM probe reveals dynamic coupling between mitochondrial inner membrane fluidity and cellular respiration.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsSingh G, George G, Raja SO, Kandaswamy P, Kumar M, Thutupalli S, Laxman S, Gulyani A
JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Date Published2023 Jun 13
KeywordsCell Respiration, Diffusion, Membrane Fluidity, Mitochondrial Membranes, Molecular Probes, Osmotic Pressure

The inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM), housing components of the electron transport chain (ETC), is the site for respiration. The ETC relies on mobile carriers; therefore, it has long been argued that the fluidity of the densely packed IMM can potentially influence ETC flux and cell physiology. However, it is unclear if cells temporally modulate IMM fluidity upon metabolic or other stimulation. Using a photostable, red-shifted, cell-permeable molecular-rotor, Mitorotor-1, we present a multiplexed approach for quantitatively mapping IMM fluidity in living cells. This reveals IMM fluidity to be linked to cellular-respiration and responsive to stimuli. Multiple approaches combining in vitro experiments and live-cell fluorescence (FLIM) lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) show Mitorotor-1 to robustly report IMM 'microviscosity'/fluidity through changes in molecular free volume. Interestingly, external osmotic stimuli cause controlled swelling/compaction of mitochondria, thereby revealing a graded Mitorotor-1 response to IMM microviscosity. Lateral diffusion measurements of IMM correlate with microviscosity reported via Mitorotor-1 FLIM-lifetime, showing convergence of independent approaches for measuring IMM local-order. Mitorotor-1 FLIM reveals mitochondrial heterogeneity in IMM fluidity; between-and-within cells and across single mitochondrion. Multiplexed FLIM lifetime imaging of Mitorotor-1 and NADH autofluorescence reveals that IMM fluidity positively correlates with respiration, across individual cells. Remarkably, we find that stimulating respiration, through nutrient deprivation or chemically, also leads to increase in IMM fluidity. These data suggest that modulating IMM fluidity supports enhanced respiratory flux. Our study presents a robust method for measuring IMM fluidity and suggests a dynamic regulatory paradigm of modulating IMM local order on changing metabolic demand.

Alternate JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A
PubMed ID37276406
PubMed Central IDPMC10268597