DiOC6 staining reveals organelle structure and dynamics in living yeast cells

Ann J. Koning, Pek Yee Lum, Jennifer M. Williams, Robin Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


When present at low concentrations, the fluorescent lipophilic dye, DiOC6, stains mitochondria in living yeast cells [Pringle et al.: Methods in Cell Biol. 31:357–435, 1989; Weisman et al.: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 87:1076–1080, 1990]. However, we found that the nuclear envelope and endoplasmic reticulum were specifically stained if the dye concentration was increased or if certain respiratory‐deficient yeast strains were examined. The quality of nuclear envelope staining with DiOC6 was sufficiently sensitive to reveal alterations in the nuclear envelope known as karmellae. These membranes were previously apparent only by electron microscopy. At the high dye concentrations required to stain the nuclear envelope, wild‐type cells could no longer grow on non‐fermentable carbon sources. In spite of this effect on mitochondrial function, the presence of high dye concentration did not adversely affect cell viability or general growth characteristics when strains were grown under standard conditions on glucose. Consequently, time‐lapse confocal microscopy was used to examine organelle dynamics in living yeast cells stained with DiOC6. These in vivo observations correlated very well with previous electron microscopic studies, including analyses of mitochondria, karmellae, and mitosis. For example, cycles of mitochondrial fusion and division, as well as the changes in nuclear shape and position that occur during mitosis, were readily imaged in time‐lapse studies of living DiOC6‐stained cells. This technique also revealed new aspects of nuclear disposition and interactions with other organelles. For example, the nucleus and vacuole appeared to form a structurally coupled unit that could undergo coordinated movements. Furthermore, unlike the general view that nuclear movements occur only in association with division, the nucleus/vacuole underwent dramatic migrations around the cell periphery as cells exited from stationary phase. In addition to the large migrations or rotations of the nucleus/vacuole, DiOC6 staining also revealed more subtle dynamics, including the forces of the spindle on the nuclear envelope during mitosis. This technique should have broad application in analyses of yeast cell structure and function. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-128
Number of pages18
JournalCell Motility and the Cytoskeleton
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993


  • DiOC
  • confocal microscopy
  • endoplasmic reticulum
  • karmellae
  • mitochondria
  • mitosis
  • nucleus


Dive into the research topics of 'DiOC6 staining reveals organelle structure and dynamics in living yeast cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this