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Multiplexed confocal and super-resolution fluorescence imaging of cytoskeletal and neuronal synapse proteins
Neuronal synapses contain dozens of protein species whose expression levels and localizations are key determinants of synaptic transmission and plasticity. The spectral properties of fluorophores used in conventional microscopy limit the number of measured proteins to four species within a given sample. The ability to perform high-throughput confocal or super-resolution imaging of many proteins simultaneously without limitation in target number imposed by this spectral limit would enable large-scale characterization of synaptic protein networks in situ. Here, we introduce PRISM: Probe-based Imaging for Sequential Multiplexing, a method that sequentially utilizes either high affinity Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) or low affinity DNA probes to enable diffraction-limited confocal and PAINT-based super-resolution imaging. High-affinity LNA probes offer high-throughput, confocal-based imaging compared with PAINT, which uses low affinity probes to realize localization-based super-resolution imaging. Simultaneous immunostaining of all targets is performed prior to imaging, followed by sequential LNA/DNA probe exchange that requires only minutes under mild wash conditions. We apply PRISM to quantify the co-expression levels and nanometer-scale organization of one dozen cytoskeletal and synaptic proteins within individual neuronal synapses. Our approach is scalable to dozens of target proteins and is compatible with high-content screening platforms commonly used to interrogate phenotypic changes associated with genetic and drug perturbations in a variety of cell types.
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