Determination of the source of SHG verniers in zebrafish skeletal muscle

Sci Rep. 2015 Dec 11;5:18119. doi: 10.1038/srep18119.


SHG microscopy is an emerging microscopic technique for medically relevant imaging because certain endogenous proteins, such as muscle myosin lattices within muscle cells, are sufficiently spatially ordered to generate detectable SHG without the use of any fluorescent dye. Given that SHG signal is sensitive to the structural state of muscle sarcomeres, SHG functional imaging can give insight into the integrity of muscle cells in vivo. Here, we report a thorough theoretical and experimental characterization of myosin-derived SHG intensity profiles within intact zebrafish skeletal muscle. We determined that "SHG vernier" patterns, regions of bifurcated SHG intensity, are illusory when sarcomeres are staggered with respect to one another. These optical artifacts arise due to the phase coherence of SHG signal generation and the Guoy phase shift of the laser at the focus. In contrast, two-photon excited fluorescence images obtained from fluorescently labeled sarcomeric components do not contain such illusory structures, regardless of the orientation of adjacent myofibers. Based on our results, we assert that complex optical artifacts such as SHG verniers should be taken into account when applying functional SHG imaging as a diagnostic readout for pathological muscle conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artifacts
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton
  • Muscle Cells / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Myofibrils / metabolism*
  • Myosins / metabolism*
  • Photons
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sarcomeres / metabolism*
  • Zebrafish / anatomy & histology
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / metabolism*


  • Myosins