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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Nov 15;108(46):E1102-10. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1114444108. Epub 2011 Oct 26.

Three-dimensional superresolution colocalization of intracellular protein superstructures and the cell surface in live Caulobacter crescentus.

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  • 1Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Recently, single-molecule imaging and photocontrol have enabled superresolution optical microscopy of cellular structures beyond Abbe's diffraction limit, extending the frontier of noninvasive imaging of structures within living cells. However, live-cell superresolution imaging has been challenged by the need to image three-dimensional (3D) structures relative to their biological context, such as the cellular membrane. We have developed a technique, termed superresolution by power-dependent active intermittency and points accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (SPRAIPAINT) that combines imaging of intracellular enhanced YFP (eYFP) fusions (SPRAI) with stochastic localization of the cell surface (PAINT) to image two different fluorophores sequentially with only one laser. Simple light-induced blinking of eYFP and collisional flux onto the cell surface by Nile red are used to achieve single-molecule localizations, without any antibody labeling, cell membrane permeabilization, or thiol-oxygen scavenger systems required. Here we demonstrate live-cell 3D superresolution imaging of Crescentin-eYFP, a cytoskeletal fluorescent protein fusion, colocalized with the surface of the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus using a double-helix point spread function microscope. Three-dimensional colocalization of intracellular protein structures and the cell surface with superresolution optical microscopy opens the door for the analysis of protein interactions in living cells with excellent precision (20-40 nm in 3D) over a large field of view (12 12 μm).

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