A new probe for super-resolution imaging of membranes elucidates trafficking pathways

J Cell Biol. 2014 May 26;205(4):591-606. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201402066.


The molecular composition of the organelles involved in membrane recycling is difficult to establish as a result of the absence of suitable labeling tools. We introduce in this paper a novel probe, named membrane-binding fluorophore-cysteine-lysine-palmitoyl group (mCLING), which labels the plasma membrane and is taken up during endocytosis. It remains attached to membranes after fixation and permeabilization and can therefore be used in combination with immunostaining and super-resolution microscopy. We applied mCLING to mammalian-cultured cells, yeast, bacteria, primary cultured neurons, Drosophila melanogaster larval neuromuscular junctions, and mammalian tissue. mCLING enabled us to study the molecular composition of different trafficking organelles. We used it to address several questions related to synaptic vesicle recycling in the auditory inner hair cells from the organ of Corti and to investigate molecular differences between synaptic vesicles that recycle actively or spontaneously in cultured neurons. We conclude that mCLING enables the investigation of trafficking membranes in a broad range of preparations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Endocytosis / physiology
  • Exocytosis / physiology
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Inner / physiology
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Organ of Corti / physiology
  • Organelles / physiology*
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Protein Transport / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Synaptic Vesicles / physiology


  • Fluorescent Dyes