, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 451-458

A rapid and sensitive fluorometric screening assay using YO-PRO-1 to quantify tumour cell invasion through Matrigel

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A new quantitative assay for the study of tumour cell invasionin vitro is described. Employing the novel fluorescent dye YO-PRO-1, cells that penetrate Matrigel-coated transwells are counted on the basis of dye-bound cellular nucleic acid content. Following transmigration, the cells in the lower compartments are lysed by freezing in water. After a brief incubation with YO-PRO-1, nucleic acid or DNA content is measured as fluorescence intensity in 96-well microplates and quantitated by a cell- or DNA-calibration curve. Using standard curves, a linear relationship between fluorescence intensity and cell number was found in the range tested (from 100 to 80 000 cells). The mean relative intra- and inter-assay variability of the cell quantitation in this range was 3.5 and 4.2%, respectively. When applied to Matrigel invasion studies, as few as 400 cells could be counted. The quantitation could be performed within 3 h. HCT 116, MDA MB 231 and HT 29 cells were investigated as examples of tumour cells with different invasive abilities in the 48-h Matrigel invasion assay. Using YO-PRO-1, 6.5 ± 0.6% invasive HCT 116 cells and 52.6 ± 4.5% MDA MB 231 cells (percentage of the inoculated cell population) were measured. HT 29 cells were practically non-invasive. These results were confirmed by visual scoring of DAPI-stained nuclei. In conclusion, the main advantages of the assay are its sensitive, reproducible and rapid quantitation of tumour cell invasionin vitro and the applicability to extended sample numbers by measuring in 96-well microplates.