STED microscopy with optimized labeling density reveals 9-fold arrangement of a centriole protein

Biophys J. 2012 Jun 20;102(12):2926-35. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.05.015. Epub 2012 Jun 19.


Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy can achieve resolution beyond the optical diffraction limit, partially closing the gap between conventional optical imaging and electron microscopy for elucidation of subcellular architecture. The centriole, a key component of the cellular control and division machinery, is 250 nm in diameter, a spatial scale where super-resolution methods such as stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy can provide previously unobtainable detail. We use STED with a resolution of 60 nm to demonstrate that the centriole distal appendage protein Cep164 localizes in nine clusters spaced around a ring of ∼300 nm in diameter, and quantify the influence of the labeling density in STED immunofluorescence microscopy. We find that the labeling density dramatically influences the observed number, size, and brightness of labeled Cep164 clusters, and estimate the average number of secondary antibody labels per cluster. The arrangements are morphologically similar in centrioles of both proliferating cells and differentiated multiciliated cells, suggesting a relationship of this structure to function. Our STED measurements in single centrioles are consistent with results obtained by electron microscopy, which involve ensemble averaging or very different sample preparation conditions, suggesting that we have arrived at a direct measurement of a centriole protein by careful optimization of the labeling density.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / chemistry
  • Antibodies / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Centrioles*
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Mice
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Microtubule Proteins / chemistry*
  • Microtubule Proteins / metabolism*
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Antibodies
  • Microtubule Proteins