International journal of molecular sciences
Mapping the Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Nanocluster Topography at the Cell Membrane with STED and STORM Nanoscopies
Lucas A Saavedra, Héctor Buena-Maizón, Francisco J Barrantes
nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; super-resolution microscopy; nanoscopy; STED; STORM; cholesterol; nanoclusters
The cell-surface topography and density of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) play a key functional role in the synapse. Here we employ in parallel two labeling and two super-resolution microscopy strategies to characterize the distribution of this receptor at the plasma membrane of the mammalian clonal cell line CHO-K1/A5. Cells were interrogated with two targeted techniques (confocal microscopy and stimulated emission depletion (STED) nanoscopy) and single-molecule nanoscopy (stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy, STORM) using the same fluorophore, Alexa Fluor 647, tagged onto either α-bungarotoxin (BTX) or the monoclonal antibody mAb35. Analysis of the topography of nanometer-sized aggregates (“nanoclusters”) was carried out using STORMGraph, a quantitative clustering analysis for single-molecule localization microscopy based on graph theory and community detection, and ASTRICS, an inter-cluster similarity algorithm based on computational geometry. Antibody-induced crosslinking of receptors resulted in nanoclusters with a larger number of receptor molecules and higher densities than those observed in BTX-labeled samples. STORM and STED provided complementary information, STED rendering a direct map of the mesoscale nAChR distribution at distances ~10-times larger than the nanocluster centroid distances measured in STORM samples. By applying photon threshold filtering analysis, we show that it is also possible to detect the mesoscale organization in STORM images.