Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

pHLARE: a new biosensor reveals decreased lysosome pH in cancer cells.

  • Author(s): Webb, Bradley A;
  • Aloisio, Francesca M;
  • Charafeddine, Rabab A;
  • Cook, Jessica;
  • Wittmann, Torsten;
  • Barber, Diane L
  • et al.

Many lysosome functions are determined by a lumenal pH of ∼5.0, including the activity of resident acid-activated hydrolases. Lysosome pH (pHlys) is often increased in neurodegenerative disorders and predicted to be decreased in cancers, making it a potential target for therapeutics to limit the progression of these diseases. Accurately measuring pHlys, however, is limited by currently used dyes that accumulate in multiple intracellular compartments and cannot be propagated in clonal cells for longitudinal studies or used for in vivo determinations. To resolve this limitation, we developed a genetically encoded ratiometric pHlys biosensor, pHLARE (pH Lysosomal Activity REporter), which localizes predominantly in lysosomes, has a dynamic range of pH 4.0 to 6.5, and can be stably expressed in cells. Using pHLARE we show decreased pHlys with inhibiting activity of the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). Also, cancer cells from different tissue origins have a lower pHlys than untransformed cells, and stably expressing oncogenic RasV12 in untransformed cells is sufficient to decrease pHlys. pHLARE is a new tool to accurately measure pHlys for improved understanding of lysosome dynamics, which is increasingly considered a therapeutic target.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View