Capturing Metabolism-Dependent Solvent Dynamics in the Lumen of a Trafficking Lysosome

The eukaryotic cell compartmentalizes into spatially confined, membrane-enclosed, intracellular structures (e.g., organelles, endosomes, and vesicles). Here, peculiar physicochemical properties of the local environment occur and participate in the regulation of ongoing molecular processes. In spite of the huge amount of available environmental probes, experiments on subcellular structures are severely challenged by their three-dimensional (3D) movement. This bottleneck is tackled here by focusing an excitation light beam in a periodic orbit around the structure of interest. The recorded signal is used as feedback to localize the structure position at high temporal resolution: microseconds along the orbit, milliseconds between orbits. The lysosome is selected as the intracellular target, together with 6-acetyl-2-dimethylaminonaphthalene (ACDAN) as probe of the physicochemical properties of the intralysosomal environment. Generalized polarization (GP) analysis of ACDAN emission is used to get a quantitative view on intralysosomal solvent dipolar relaxation. Thus, raster image correlation spectroscopy (RICS) analysis reveals that the ACDAN GP signal is fluctuating in the micro-to-millisecond time range during natural organelle 3D trafficking. We show that ACDAN GP fluctuations are characteristic of lysosomes in living cells, are selectively abolished by lysosomal basification, and depend on metabolic energy in the form of ATP. We argue that intralysosomal ACDAN GP fluctuates according to the ongoing organelle metabolism. Indeed, we report alterations in amplitude and timing of GP fluctuations in a cellular model of lysosomal storage disorder (LSD). The strategy proposed provides insight into the elusive local environment of a trafficking lysosome and supports similar molecular investigations at the subcellular level.