Noninvasive and reliable quantification of rheological characteristics in the nucleus is extremely useful for fundamental research and practical applications in medicine and biology. This study examines the use of fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) to noninvasively determine nucleoplasmic viscosity (nu), an important parameter of nucleoplasmic rheology. Our FCS analyses show that nu of lung adenocarcinoma (ASTC-a-1) and HeLa cells are 1.77±0.42 cP and 1.40±0.27 cP, respectively, about three to four times larger than the water viscosity at 37 °C. nu was reduced by 31 to 36% upon hypotonic exposure and increased by 28 to 52% from 37 to 24 °C. In addition, we found that nu of HeLa cells reached the lowest value in the S phase and that there was no significant difference of nu between in the G1 and G2 phases. Last, nucleoplasmic viscosity was found to be larger than cytoplasmic viscosity in both HeLa and ASTC-a-1 cells. These results indicate that FCS can be used as a noninvasive tool to investigate the microenvironment of living cells. This is the first report on the measurement of nu in living cells synchronized in the G1, S, and G2 phases.
Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) is a new kind of real-time, high-speed and single-molecule technique. It is used to detect the kinetic characteristics of fluorescent dye such as diffusion coefficient in the aqueous solution. Combined with confocal microscope optics, it has been now widely applied in cell biological research. Through a time correlation analysis of spontaneous intensity fluctuations, this technique with EGFP as a probe is capable of determining viscosity of fluids according to Stokes-Einstein equation. Nucleoplasmic viscosity is an important physical parameter to quantify the rheological characteristics of the nucleoplasm. Investigation on nucleoplasmic viscosity plays an important role in further understanding intranuclear environment. In this paper, FCS is introduced to noninvasively investigate nucleoplasmic viscosity of living cells. The results show that nucleoplasmic viscosity of lung adenocarcinoma (ASTC-a-1) cells is 2.55±0.61 cP and nucleoplasmic viscosity is larger than cytoplasmic viscosity at 37 °C (pH 7.4). In addition, significant changes in nucleoplasmic viscosity are detected by FCS when cells are exposed to hyper or hypotonic medium. Our study suggests that FCS can be used to detect the kinetic characteristics of biomolecules in living cells and thus helps to investigate the dynamic changes of the microenvironment in the cell.