Localization of bleomycin in a single living cell using three-photon excitation microscopy

A. T. Abraham, D. L. Brautigan, Sidney Hecht, A. Periasamy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Bleomycin has been used in the clinic as a chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of several neoplasms, including non-Hodgkins lymphomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and testicular tumors. The effectiveness of bleomycin is believed to be derived from its ability to bind and oxidatively cleave DNA in the presence of a iron cofactor in vivo. A substantial amount of data on BLM has been collected, there is little informatien concerning the effects of bleomycin in living cells. In order to obtain data pertinent to the effects of BLM in intact cells, we have exploited the intrinsic fluorescence property of bleomycin to monitor the uptake of the drug in mammalian cells. We employed two light microscopy techniques, a wide-field and three-photon excitation (760 nm) fluorescence microscopy. Treatment of HeLa cells with bleomycin resulted in rapid to localization within the cells. In addition data collected from the wide field experiments, three-photon excitation of BLM which considerably reduced the phototoxic effect compared with UV light excitation in the wide-field microscopy indicated co-localization of the drug to regions of the cytoplasm occupied by the endoplasmic reticulum probe, DiOC 5. The data clearly indicates that the cellular uptake of bleomycin after one minute includes the nucleus as well as in cytoplasm. Contrary to previous studies, which indicate chromosomal DNA as the target of bleomycin, the current findings suggest that the drug is distributed to many areas within the cell, including the endoplasmic reticulum, an organelle that is known to contain ribonucleic acids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
EditorsA. Periasamy, P.T.C. So
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes
EventMultiphoton Microscopy in the Biomedical Sciences - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 21 2001Jan 23 2001


OtherMultiphoton Microscopy in the Biomedical Sciences
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose, CA


  • Bleomycin (BLM)
  • Chemotherapeutic agent
  • DNA
  • Three-photon excitation microscopy
  • Tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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