We have used phosphorus-31 nuclear magnetic resonance to determine intracellular pH in the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum. We devised an air-lift circulator to maintain the dense cell suspensions in a well-oxygenated and well-stirred state while causing minimal perturbation to the sample flowing through the detector coils. Cells continued to develop normally in this set-up. Spectra acquired under these conditions typically show two peaks in the inorganic phosphate region corresponding to pH values of 7.16 +/- 0.03 and 6.48 +/- 0.02. These peaks are believed to represent the mitochondrial and cytosolic compartments respectively, based on a comparison of these values with published data and the collapse of the two compartments upon addition of the mitochondrial uncoupler carbonyl cyanide 4-(trifluoromethoxy)-phenylhydrazone. Dictyostelium cells show a remarkable degree of intracellular pH homeostasis. Both mitochondrial and cytosolic pH remained unchanged as extracellular pH was varied from 4.3 to 8.1. There was also no apparent change in the pH of either compartment after up to 13.5 hours' development in suspension.

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