Scientific reports

In vivo mouse and live cell STED microscopy of neuronal actin plasticity using far-red emitting fluorescent proteins.

PMID 28924236


The study of proteins in dendritic processes within the living brain is mainly hampered by the diffraction limit of light. STED microscopy is so far the only far-field light microscopy technique to overcome the diffraction limit and resolve dendritic spine plasticity at superresolution (nanoscopy) in the living mouse. After having tested several far-red fluorescent proteins in cell culture we report here STED microscopy of the far-red fluorescent protein mNeptune2, which showed best results for our application to superresolve actin filaments at a resolution of ~80 nm, and to observe morphological changes of actin in the cortex of a living mouse. We illustrate in vivo far-red neuronal actin imaging in the living mouse brain with superresolution for time periods of up to one hour. Actin was visualized by fusing mNeptune2 to the actin labels Lifeact or Actin-Chromobody. We evaluated the concentration dependent influence of both actin labels on the appearance of dendritic spines; spine number was significantly reduced at high expression levels whereas spine morphology was normal at low expression.