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Porphyrin-Modified Beads for Use as Compensation Controls in Flow Cytometry

Published: March 24th, 2023



1bioAffinity Technologies

The protocol describes how porphyrin-based compensation beads for flow cytometry are prepared by the reaction of amine-functionalized polystyrene beads with the porphyrin TCPP and the amide coupling reagent EDC. A filtration procedure is used to reduce the particulate byproducts.

Flow cytometry can rapidly characterize and quantify diverse cell populations based on fluorescence measurements. The cells are first stained with one or more fluorescent reagents, each functionalized with a different fluorescent molecule (fluorophore) that binds to cells selectively based on their phenotypic characteristics, such as cell surface antigen expression. The intensity of fluorescence from each reagent bound to cells can be measured on the flow cytometer using channels that detect a specified range of wavelengths. When multiple fluorophores are used, the light from individual fluorophores often spills over into undesired detection channels, which requires a correction to the fluorescence intensity data in a process called compensation.

Compensation control particles, typically polymer beads bound to a single fluorophore, are needed for each fluorophore used in a cell labeling experiment. Data from compensation particles from the flow cytometer are used to apply a correction to the fluorescence intensity measurements. This protocol describes the preparation and purification of polystyrene compensation beads covalently functionalized with the fluorescent reagent meso-tetra(4-carboxyphenyl) porphine (TCPP) and their application in flow cytometry compensation. In this work, amine-functionalized polystyrene beads were treated with TCPP and the amide coupling reagent EDC (N-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)-N′-ethylcarbodiimide hydrochloride) at pH 6 and at room temperature for 16 h with agitation. The TCPP beads were isolated by centrifugation and resuspended in a pH 7 buffer for storage. TCPP-related particulates were observed as a byproduct. The number of these particulates could be reduced using an optional filtration protocol. The resultant TCPP beads were successfully used on a flow cytometer for compensation in experiments with human sputum cells labeled with multiple fluorophores. The TCPP beads proved stable following storage in a refrigerator for 300 days.

Porphyrins have been of interest for many years in the biomedical field owing to their fluorescence and tumor-targeting properties1,2,3. Therapeutic applications such as photodynamic therapy (PDT) and sonodynamic therapy (SDT) entail the systemic administration of a porphyrin to a cancer patient, the accumulation of the drug in the tumor, and the localized exposure of the tumor to a laser light of a specific wavelength or ultrasound. The exposure to laser light or ultrasound leads to the generation of reactive oxygen species by the porphyrin and subsequent cell death

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All procedures need to be done using appropriate personal protective equipment.

1. Preparation of the TCPP stock solution, 1.0 mg/ mL

NOTE: This can be prepared monthly.

  1. Using an analytical balance, spatula, and weighing paper, weigh 49.0-50.9 mg of TCPP. Round the weight to 1/10 of a milligram. Set the measured amount of TCPP aside protected from light.
    NOTE: Use a static gun if the weight reading is unstable.
  2. Determine.......

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This protocol for the TCPP labeling of beads is relatively fast and efficient. Figure 1 shows a representative outcome of the TCPP bead-labeling process as determined by flow cytometry. Figure 1A shows the standardized profile of Rainbow beads, as detected in the appropriate channel for detecting TCPP. These beads serve as a QC for the standardization of the laser voltages for the detection of TCPP by the flow cytometer. Figure 1B s.......

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Despite the many applications of porphyrins in cancer diagnosis and therapeutics2, there is limited literature on their potential use as a flow cytometric reagent for the identification of cancerous versus non-cancerous cell populations in primary human tissues24,25,26. Our research on the flow cytometric analysis of human sputum24,27 requires the.......

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We would like to thank David Rodriguez for assistance with the figure preparation and Precision Pathology Services (San Antonio, TX) for the use of its Navios EX flow cytometer.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Amber plastic vials, 2 mL, U- bottom, polypropylene Research Products International   ZC1028-500
Amine-funtionalized polystyrene divinylbenzene crosslinked (PS/DVB) beads, 10.6 μm diameter, 2.5% w/v aqueous suspension, 3.82 x 107 beads/mL, 7.11 x 1011 amine groups/ bead Spherotech APX-100-10 Diameter spec. 8.0-12.9 um, suspension 2.5% w/v 3.82 x 107 beads/mL, 7.11 x 1011 amine groups/ bead
Conical tubes, 50 mL, Falcon Fisher Scientific 14-432-22
Centrifuge with appropriate rotor
Disposable polystyrene bottle with cap, 150 mL Fisher Scientific 09-761-140
EDC (N- (3- dimethylaminopropyl)- N'- ethylcarbodiimide hydrochloride), ≥98% Sigma 03450-1G CAS No:  25952-53-8
FlowJo Single Cell Analysis Software (v10.6.1) BD
Glass coverslips, 22 x 22 mm Fisher Scientific 12-540-BP
Glass fiber syringe filters (Finneran, 5 µm, 13 mm diameter) Thomas Scientific 1190M60
Glass microscope slides, 275 x 75 x 1 mm Fisher Scientific 12-550-143
Hanks Balanced Salt Solution (HBSS) Fisher Scientific 14-175-095
Isopropanol, ACS grade Fisher Scientific AC423830010
Mechanical pipette, 1 channel, 100-1000 uL with tips Eppendorf 3123000918
MES (22- (N- mopholino)- N'- ethanesulfonic acid, hemisodium salt Sigma M0164 CAS No:  117961-21-4
Navios EX flow cytometer Beckman Coulter
Olympus BX-40 microscope with DP73 camera and 40X objective with cellSens software Olympus or similar
Pasteur pipettes, glass, 5.75" Fisher Scientific 13-678-6B
pH meter (UB 10 Ultra Basic) Denver Instruments
Pipette controller (Drummond) DP101
Plastic Syringe, 5 mL Fisher Scientific 14955452
Polystyrene Particles (non-functionalized), SPHERO,  2.5% w/v, 8.0-12.9 µm Spherotech PP-100-10 
Polypropylene tubes, 15mL, conical Fisher Scientific 14-959-53A
Polystyrene tubes, round bottom  Fisher Scientific 14-959-2A
Rainbow Beads (Spherotech URCP-50-2K) Fisher Scientific NC9207381
Serological pipettes, disposable - 10 mL Fisher Scientific 07-200-574
Serological pipettes, disposable - 25 mL Fisher Scientific 07-200-576
Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) Sigma S6014 CAS No:  144-55-8
TCPP (meso-tetra(4-carboxyphenyl)porphine)  Frontier Scientific  Fisher Scientific 50-393-68 CAS No:  14609-54-2
Tecan Spark Plate Reader (or similar) Tecan Life Sciences
Tube revolver/rotator Thermo Fisher 88881001
Vortex mixer Fisher Scientific 2215365

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