Ten-fold Robust Expansion Microscopy

Bio Protoc. 2023 Jun 20;13(12):e4698. doi: 10.21769/BioProtoc.4698.


Expansion microscopy (ExM) is a powerful technique to overcome the diffraction limit of light microscopy that can be applied in both tissues and cells. In ExM, samples are embedded in a swellable polymer gel to physically expand the sample and isotropically increase resolution in x, y, and z. By systematic exploration of the ExM recipe space, we developed a novel ExM method termed Ten-fold Robust Expansion Microscopy (TREx) that, as the original ExM method, requires no specialized equipment or procedures. TREx enables ten-fold expansion of both thick mouse brain tissue sections and cultured human cells, can be handled easily, and enables high-resolution subcellular imaging with a single expansion step. Furthermore, TREx can provide ultrastructural context to subcellular protein localization by combining antibody-stained samples with off-the-shelf small molecule stains for both total protein and membranes.

Keywords: Antibody labeling; Expansion microscopy; Light microscopy; Protein stain; Super resolution; Ultrastructure.