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Immunofluorescence in brain sections: simultaneous detection of presynaptic and postsynaptic proteins in identified neurons


Schneider Gasser, Edith M; Straub, Carolin J; Panzanelli, Patrizia; Weinmann, Oliver; Sassoè-Pognetto, Marco; Fritschy, Jean-Marc (2006). Immunofluorescence in brain sections: simultaneous detection of presynaptic and postsynaptic proteins in identified neurons. Nature Protocols, 1(4):1887-1897.

Abstract

Elucidating the molecular organization of synapses is essential for understanding brain function and plasticity. Immunofluorescence, combined with various fluorescent probes, is a sensitive and versatile method for morphological studies. However, analysis of synaptic proteins in situ is limited by epitope-masking after tissue fixation. Furthermore, postsynaptic proteins (such as ionotropic receptors and scaffolding proteins) often require weaker fixation for optimal detection than most intracellular markers, thereby hindering simultaneous visualization of these molecules. We present three protocols, which are alternatives to perfusion fixation, to overcome these restrictions. Brief tissue fixation shortly after interruption of vital functions preserves morphology and antigenicity. Combined with specific neuronal markers, selective detection of gamma-aminobutyric acid A (GABA(A)) receptors and the scaffolding protein gephyrin in relation to identified inhibitory presynaptic terminals in the rodent brain is feasible by confocal laser scanning microscopy. The most sophisticated of these protocols can be associated with electrophysiology for correlative studies of synapse structure and function. These protocols require 2-3 consecutive days for completion.

Abstract

Elucidating the molecular organization of synapses is essential for understanding brain function and plasticity. Immunofluorescence, combined with various fluorescent probes, is a sensitive and versatile method for morphological studies. However, analysis of synaptic proteins in situ is limited by epitope-masking after tissue fixation. Furthermore, postsynaptic proteins (such as ionotropic receptors and scaffolding proteins) often require weaker fixation for optimal detection than most intracellular markers, thereby hindering simultaneous visualization of these molecules. We present three protocols, which are alternatives to perfusion fixation, to overcome these restrictions. Brief tissue fixation shortly after interruption of vital functions preserves morphology and antigenicity. Combined with specific neuronal markers, selective detection of gamma-aminobutyric acid A (GABA(A)) receptors and the scaffolding protein gephyrin in relation to identified inhibitory presynaptic terminals in the rodent brain is feasible by confocal laser scanning microscopy. The most sophisticated of these protocols can be associated with electrophysiology for correlative studies of synapse structure and function. These protocols require 2-3 consecutive days for completion.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2006
Deposited On:18 Jan 2017 15:53
Last Modified:23 Sep 2018 06:05
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:1750-2799
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/nprot.2006.265
PubMed ID:17487173

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