Autophagy is a dynamic process of bulk degradation of cellular proteins and organelles in lysosomes. Current methods of autophagy measurement include microscopy-based counting of autophagic vacuoles (AVs) in cells. We have developed a novel method to quantitatively analyze individual AVs using flow cytometry. This method, OFACS (organelle flow after cell sonication), takes advantage of efficient cell disruption with a brief sonication, generating cell homogenates with fluorescently labeled AVs that retain their integrity as confirmed with light and electron microscopy analysis. These AVs could be detected directly in the sonicated cell homogenates on a flow cytometer as a distinct population of expected organelle size on a cytometry plot. Treatment of cells with inhibitors of autophagic flux, such as chloroquine or lysosomal protease inhibitors, increased the number of particles in this population under autophagy inducing conditions, while inhibition of autophagy induction with 3-methyladenine or knockdown of ATG proteins prevented this accumulation. This assay can be easily performed in a high-throughput format and opens up previously unexplored avenues for autophagy analysis. © 2014 Degtyarev et al.
Degtyarev, M., Reichelt, M., & Lin, K. (2014). Novel quantitative autophagy analysis by organelle flow cytometry after cell sonication. PLoS ONE, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087707