The pH-sensitive probe carboxy SNAFL-1 cain be used for imaging using ratiometric and fluorescence lifetime techniques. The former method suffers from the drawback that quantitative pH imaging in cells requires a time-consuming and cumbersome calibration procedure. In contrast, straightforward calibrations in buffer suffice for fluorescence lifetime imaging. This is illustrated here by a comparative study of the two techniques under different controlled conditions. The effect of probe concentration, protein concentration, and hydrophobicity, the contents of damaged cells and living cells on the emission ratio, and the fluorescence lifetime of carboxy SNAFL-1 were studied. The results clearly demonstrate that the fluorescence lifetime imaging technique is more convenient than the ratiometric method for pH determination. © 1995 Academic Press, Inc.
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