Inorganic polyphosphate (PolyP) is a biological polymer that plays important roles in the cell physiology of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Among the available methods for PolyP localization and quantification, a 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole(DAPI)-based assay has been used for visualization of PolyP-rich organelles. Due to differences in DAPI permeability to different compartments and/or PolyP retention after fixation, a general protocol for DAPI-PolyP staining has not yet been established. Here, we tested different protocols for DAPI-PolyP detection in a range of samples with different levels of DAPI permeability, including subcellular fractions, free-living cells and cryosections of fixed tissues. Subcellular fractions of PolyP-rich organelles yielded DAPI-PolyP fluorescence, although those with a complex external layer usually required longer incubation times, previous aldehyde fixation and/or detergent permeabilization. DAPI-PolyP was also detected in cryosections of OCT-embedded tissues analyzed by multi-photon microscopy. In addition, a semi-quantitative fluorimetric analysis of DAPI-stained fractions showed PolyP mobilization in a similar fashion to what has been demonstrated with the use of enzyme-based quantitative protocols. Taken together, our results support the use of DAPI for both PolyP visualization and quantification, although specific steps are suggested as a general guideline for DAPI-PolyP staining in biological samples with different degrees of DAPI and PolyP permeability.
DAPI, polyphosphate, fluorescence, fluorimetry