Our original aim was to evaluate in vivo nuclear uptake of a conjugate containing the SV40 T Antigen nuclear localization sequence (NLS), 6 aminohexanoic acids alternating with 7 arginines, the fluorescence dye fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) and the gadolinium chelator 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid (DOTA). During the confocal laser scanning microscopy examination of frozen sections of the kidneys of mice injected intravenously with the conjugate we found unexpected conjugate relocation. In the dry frozen sections no nuclear staining was found. After covering the sections with physiological saline and a coverslip, the conjugate was relocated to the cell nuclei. Causation of this effect by FITC and DOTA could be excluded with appropriate controls. In the assumption that other positively charged conjugates behave in the same manner we tested two further conjugates in vivo. An octaarginine coupled to a lysine carrying FITC on the -amino-group was found in the cell nuclei of the frozen kidney sections before and after covering the slices with saline. By contrast, a conjugate containing myristoylated HIV-Tat was found not to stain the cell nuclei but only the cytoplasm before and after covering with saline. This demonstrates that not all positively charged conjugates are relocated to the cell nucleus after covering the frozen sections with saline. This was confirmed by direct incubation of frozen sections from untreated kidneys with the same conjugates and additional positively charged FITC conjugates. By coincubating the FITC conjugates with a cytoplasm directed rhodamine conjugate on untreated kidney sections we found that such conjugates could be used as nuclear FITC counterstain. In summary, one should bear in mind that positively charged conjugates applied in vivo can relocate artificially after covering with saline.
Keywords: Morphological artifacts, Frozen Sections, FITC-Labeled Peptide Conjugates, Artificial Relocation, SV40 T Antigen nuclear localization sequence, nuclear uptake, FITC conjugates, DOTA, glioma cells, N-terminally myristoylated HIV 1 Tat peptide sequence
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