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Biophys J. 2008 Jul;95(2):877-85. doi: 10.1529/biophysj.107.127449. Epub 2008 Mar 28.

4Pi microscopy of the nuclear pore complex.

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Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics, and Center for Nanotechnology (CeNTech), University of Münster, Münster, Germany.


To explore whether super-resolution fluorescence microscopy is able to resolve topographic features of single cellular protein complexes, a two-photon 4Pi microscope was used to study the nuclear pore complex (NPC). The microscope had an axial resolution of 110-130 nm and a two-color localization accuracy of 5-10 nm. In immune-labeled HeLa cells, NPCs could be resolved much better by 4Pi than by confocal microscopy. When two epitopes of the NPC, one localized at the tip of the cytoplasmic filaments and the other at the ring of the nuclear basket, were immune-labeled, they could be clearly resolved in single NPCs, with the distance between them determined to be 152 +/- 30 nm. In cells expressing a green fluorescent protein construct localized at the NPC center, the distances between the ring of the nuclear filaments and the NPC center was 76 +/- 12 (Potorous tridactylus cells) or 91 +/- 21 nm (normal rat kidney cells), whereas the distance between the NPC center and the tips of the cytoplasmic filaments was 84 +/- 18 nm, all values in good agreement with previous electron or single-molecule fluorescence estimates. We conclude that super-resolution fluorescence microscopy is a powerful method for analyzing single protein complexes and the cellular nanomachinery in general.

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