Green fluorescent protein fused to human chromogranin B or neuropeptide Y was expressed in PC12 cells and caused bright, punctate fluorescence. The fluorescent points colocalized with the endogenous secretory granule marker dopamine β-hydroxylase. Stimulation of live PC12 cells with elevated [K+], or of permeabilized PC12 cells with Ca2+, led to Ca2+ dependent loss of fluorescence from neurites. Ca2+ stimulated secretion of both fusion proteins equally well. In living cells, single fluorescent granules were imaged by evanescent-wave fluorescence microscopy. Granules were seen to migrate; to stop, as if trapped by plasmalemmal docking sites; and then to disappear abruptly, as if through exocytosis. Evidently, GFP fused to secreted peptides is a fluorescent marker for dense-core secretory granules and may be used for time-resolved microscopy of single granules.
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