Telomere length and dynamics are central to understanding cell aging, genomic instability and cancer. Currently, there are limited guidelines for analyzing telomeric features in 3D using different cellular models. Image processing for telomere analysis is of increasing interest in many fields, however a lack of standardization can make comparisons and reproducibility an issue. Here we provide a user's guide for quantitative immunofluorescence microscopy of telomeres in interphase cells that covers image acquisition, processing and analysis. Strategies for determining telomere size and number are identified using normal human diploid Hs68 fibroblasts. We demonstrate how to accurately determine telomere number, length, volume, and degree of clustering using quantitative immunofluorescence. Using this workflow, we make the unexpected observation that hTERT-immortalized Hs68 cells with longer telomeres have fewer resolvable telomeres in interphase. Rigorous quantification indicates that this is due to telomeric clustering, leading to systematic underestimation of telomere number and overestimation of telomere size.
Keywords: Nuclear organization; Telomeres; Wide-field fluorescence microscopy.
© The Author(s) 2019.