In vivo STED microscopy visualizes PSD95 sub-structures and morphological changes over several hours in the mouse visual cortex

Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 9;8(1):219. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18640-z.


The post-synaptic density (PSD) is an electron dense region consisting of ~1000 proteins, found at the postsynaptic membrane of excitatory synapses, which varies in size depending upon synaptic strength. PSD95 is an abundant scaffolding protein in the PSD and assembles a family of supercomplexes comprised of neurotransmitter receptors, ion channels, as well as signalling and structural proteins. We use superresolution STED (STimulated Emission Depletion) nanoscopy to determine the size and shape of PSD95 in the anaesthetised mouse visual cortex. Adult knock-in mice expressing eGFP fused to the endogenous PSD95 protein were imaged at time points from 1 min to 6 h. Superresolved large assemblies of PSD95 show different sub-structures; most large assemblies were ring-like, some horse-shoe or figure-8 shaped, and shapes were continuous or made up of nanoclusters. The sub-structure appeared stable during the shorter (minute) time points, but after 1 h, more than 50% of the large assemblies showed a change in sub-structure. Overall, these data showed a sub-morphology of large PSD95 assemblies which undergo changes within the 6 hours of observation in the anaesthetised mouse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disks Large Homolog 4 Protein / genetics
  • Disks Large Homolog 4 Protein / metabolism*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Post-Synaptic Density / metabolism
  • Post-Synaptic Density / ultrastructure
  • Protein Multimerization*
  • Visual Cortex / metabolism*


  • Disks Large Homolog 4 Protein
  • Dlg4 protein, mouse
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins