Correlated fluorescence microscopy and multi-ion beam secondary ion mass spectrometry imaging reveals phosphatidylethanolamine increases in the membrane of cancer cells over-expressing the molecular chaperone subunit CCTδ
Journal article, 2021

Changes in the membrane composition of sub-populations of cells can influence different properties with importance to tumour growth, metastasis and treatment efficacy. In this study, we use correlated fluorescence microscopy and ToF-SIMS with C60+ and (CO2)6k+ ion beams to identify and characterise sub-populations of cells based on successful transfection leading to over-expression of CCTδ, a component of the multi-subunit molecular chaperone named chaperonin-containing tailless complex polypeptide 1 (CCT). CCT has been linked to increased cell growth and proliferation and is known to affect cell morphology but corresponding changes in lipid composition of the membrane have not been measured until now. Multivariate analysis of the surface mass spectra from single cells, focused on the intact lipid ions, indicates an enrichment of phosphatidylethanolamine species in the transfected cells. While the lipid changes in this case are driven by the structural changes in the protein cytoskeleton, the consequence of phosphatidylethanolamine enrichment may have additional implications in cancer such as increased membrane fluidity, increased motility and an ability to adapt to a depletion of unsaturated lipids during cancer cell proliferation. This study demonstrates a successful fluorescence microscopy-guided cell by cell membrane lipid analysis with broad application to biological investigation. Graphical abstract

Membrane curvature





Fluorescence microscopy


John Fletcher

University of Gothenburg

Sanna Sämfors

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Applied Chemistry

University of Gothenburg

Josefine Vallin

University of Gothenburg

Andreas Svanström

Sahlgrenska University Hospital

University of Gothenburg

Julie Grantham

University of Gothenburg

Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

1618-2642 (ISSN) 1618-2650 (eISSN)

Vol. 413 2 445-453

Subject Categories

Cell Biology

Cell and Molecular Biology

Medical Biotechnology (with a focus on Cell Biology (including Stem Cell Biology), Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry or Biopharmacy)





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