Optimized Fixation and Immunofluorescence Staining Methods for Dictyostelium Cells

Methods Mol Biol. 2006;346:327-38. doi: 10.1385/1-59745-144-4:327.


Recent years have seen a powerful revival of fluorescence microscopy techniques, both to observe live cells and fixed objects. The limits of sensitivity, simultaneous detection of multiple chromophores, and spatial resolution have all been pushed to the extreme. Therefore, it is essential to improve in parallel the quality of the structural and antigenic preservation during fixation and immunostaining. Chemical fixations are broadly used but often lead to antigenicity loss and severe membrane damages, such as organelle vesiculation. They also must be followed by membrane permeabilization by detergents or solvents, which can lead to extensive extraction and cytosol leakage. Fixation with solvents bypasses the need for permeabilization, but when carried out at "high" temperatures, leads to severe extraction of soluble proteins and lipids and cytosol wash-out, and has therefore been used routinely to visualize the cytoskeleton. Here, we describe a few modifications to the common aldehyde fixation protocol that help decrease the usual artifacts induced by chemical fixation. Alternatively, new techniques have now been established that are based on rapid freezing using a variety of coolants followed by fixation in solvents at low temperature. We present detailed protocols and notes that allow the achievement of optimal preservation and permeabilization for both light and electron microscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aldehydes
  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane Permeability*
  • Dictyostelium / ultrastructure*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / methods*
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*
  • Tissue Fixation*


  • Aldehydes