Quantitative single-molecule localization microscopy combined with rule-based modeling reveals ligand-induced TNF-R1 reorganization toward higher-order oligomers

Histochem Cell Biol. 2014 Jul;142(1):91-101. doi: 10.1007/s00418-014-1195-0. Epub 2014 Feb 12.


We report on the assembly of tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (TNF-R1) prior to ligand activation and its ligand-induced reorganization at the cell membrane. We apply single-molecule localization microscopy to obtain quantitative information on receptor cluster sizes and copy numbers. Our data suggest a dimeric pre-assembly of TNF-R1, as well as receptor reorganization toward higher oligomeric states with stable populations comprising three to six TNF-R1. Our experimental results directly serve as input parameters for computational modeling of the ligand-receptor interaction. Simulations corroborate the experimental finding of higher-order oligomeric states. This work is a first demonstration how quantitative, super-resolution and advanced microscopy can be used for systems biology approaches at the single-molecule and single-cell level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*
  • Protein Multimerization / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I / analysis
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / chemistry
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha