Circumvention of common labelling artefacts using secondary nanobodies
Sograte-Idrissi, S., Schlichthaerle, T., Duque-Afonso, C. J., Alevra, M., Strauss, S., Moser, T., ... & Opazo, F.
A standard procedure to study cellular elements is via immunostaining followed by optical imaging. This methodology typically requires target-specific primary antibodies (1.Abs), which are revealed by secondary antibodies (2.Abs). Unfortunately, the antibody bivalency, polyclonality, and large size can result in a series of artifacts. Alternatively, small, monovalent probes, such as single-domain antibodies (nanobodies) have been suggested to minimize these limitations. The discovery and validation of nanobodies against specific targets are challenging, thus only a minimal amount of them are currently available. Here, we used STED, DNA-PAINT, and light-sheet microscopy, to demonstrate that secondary nanobodies (1) increase localization accuracy compared to 2.Abs; (2) allow direct pre-mixing with 1.Abs before staining, reducing experimental time, and enabling the use of multiple 1.Abs from the same species; (3) penetrate thick tissues more efficiently; and (4) avoid probe-induced clustering of target molecules observed with conventional 2.Abs in living or poorly fixed samples. Altogether, we show how secondary nanobodies are a valuable alternative to 2.Abs.