Dye Probes of Cell, Organelle, and Vesicle Membrane Potentials

  • Alan S. Waggoner


The membrane potential is an important property of almost all cells and organelles. Three methods are commonly used to determine membrane potentials. Microelectrodes are used if the cells are large enough. The distribution of radioactive permeant ions between the medium and the cells can yield an estimate of membrane potential. Measurements of the fluorescence or light absorption of certain dye molecules associated with cells, organelles, or vesicles will often provide this information. This brief review covers what is known about the mechanisms of potential-sensitive dyes, their advantages and disadvantages, and examples of how they have been used in the past three years. Reviews of the earlier literature are available (Cohen and Hoffman, 1982; Freedman and Laris, 1981; Waggoner, 1979).


Membrane Potential Membrane Potential Change Chromaffin Granule Sarcoplasmic Reticulum Vesicle Measure Membrane Potential 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan S. Waggoner
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Fluorescence Research in Biomedical Sciences and Department of Biological SciencesCarnegie-Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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