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Filipin, a widely used fluorescent sterol marker is also a potent antibiotic. In this study we address the reliability of filipin as a monitor of ergosterol in fungal cells. A revised staining protocol was developed to minimize any biological effect of the compound. Germinating conidia of Penicillium discolor stained with filipin, displayed a fluorescent cap at the location of germ tube appearance and formation. During germ tube emergence, the fluorescent intensity of the cap increased. This was confirmed by HPLC as an increase of the net cellular ergosterol content. Filipin staining is absent during early germination, while FM dyes, similar molecules, stain the plasma membrane after 1 h. This indicates that the conidial cell wall is no barrier for filipin. To evaluate if filipin does bind ergosterol in situ, natamycin, more specific to ergosterol, was added before filipin staining. This resulted in a marked decrease in fluorescence indicating high ergosterol levels. This was characterized further in ergDelta-mutant cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae containing altered sterols. Here ergosterol containing cells showed a high fluorescence decrease. Taken together, these data suggest that filipin monitors an ergosterol-enriched cap in germinating conidia at the site of germ tube formation. Furthermore, the sterol-rich cap decreases and reappears after a period of actin disruption. Myriocin that affects sphingolipid synthesis results in an increase of cellular ergosterol and overall filipin fluorescence, but not at the ergosterol cap, where fluorescence is significantly lowered. In conclusion, in this work we have demonstrated an effective revised method for ergosterol staining with filipin and demonstrated its specificity in both Penicillium and Saccharomyces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-73
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Microbiological Methods
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Research areas

  • Cell Membrane, Ergosterol, Filipin, Fluorescence, Gene Deletion, Microscopy, Fluorescence, Penicillium, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins, Spores, Fungal, Staining and Labeling

ID: 88325