Cellular functions involve the temporal and spatial interplay of ions, metabolites, macromolecules, and organelles. To define the mechanisms responsible for completing cellular functions, we used methods that can yield both temporal and spatial information on multiple physiological parameters and chemical components in the same cell. We demonstrated that the combined use of selected fluorescent probes, fluorescence microscopy, and imaging methods can yield information on at least five separate cellular parameters and components in the same living cell. Furthermore, the temporal and spatial dynamics of each of the parameters and/or components can be correlated with one or more of the others. Five parameters were investigated by spectrally isolating defined regions of the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared spectrum based on five distinct fluorescent probes. The parameters included nuclei (Hoechst 33342), mitochondria (diIC1-[5] ), endosomes (lissamine rhodamine B-dextran), actin (fluorescein), and the cell volume Cy7-dextran). Nonmotile, confluent Swiss 3T3 cells did not show any detectable polarity of cell shape, or distribution of nuclei, endosomes, or mitochondria. These cells also organized a large percentage of the actin into stress fibers. In contrast, cells migrating into an in vitro wound exhibited at least two stages of reorganization of organelles and cytoplasm. During the first 3 h after wounding, the cells along the edge of the wound assumed a polarized shape, carried the nuclei in the rear of the cells, excluded endosomes and mitochondria from the lamellipodia, and lost most of the highly organized stress fibers. The cell showed a dramatic change between 3 and 7 h after producing the wound. The cells became highly elongated and motile; both the endosomes and the mitochondria penetrated into the lamellipodia, while the nuclei remained in the rear and the actin remained in less organized structures. Defining the temporal and spatial dynamics and interplay of ions, contractile proteins, lipids, regulatory proteins, metabolites, and organelles should lead to an understanding of the molecular basis of cell migration, as well as other cellular functions.

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