In situ strategy for biomedical target localization via nanogold nucleation and secondary growth

Commun Biol. 2021 Jun 10;4(1):710. doi: 10.1038/s42003-021-02246-3.


Immunocytochemistry visualizes the exact spatial location of target molecules. The most common strategy for ultrastructural immunocytochemistry is the conjugation of nanogold particles to antibodies as probes. However, conventional nanogold labelling requires time-consuming nanogold probe preparation and ultrathin sectioning of cell/tissue samples. Here, we introduce an in situ strategy involving nanogold nucleation in immunoenzymatic products on universal paraffin/cryostat sections and provide unique insight into nanogold development under hot-humid air conditions. Nanogold particles were specifically localized on kidney podocytes to target synaptopodin. Transmission electron microscopy revealed secondary growth and self-assembly that could be experimentally controlled by bovine serum albumin stabilization and phosphate-buffered saline acceleration. Valuable retrospective nanogold labelling for gastric H+/K+-ATPase was achieved on vintage immunoenzymatic deposits after a long lapse of 15 years (i.e., 15-year-old deposits). The present in situ nanogold labelling is anticipated to fill the gap between light and electron microscopy to correlate cell/tissue structure and function.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gold / analysis*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Metal Nanoparticles / analysis*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microfilament Proteins / analysis
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Ovary / ultrastructure
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Synpo protein, rat
  • Gold