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Nanogold as a Specific Marker for Electron Cryotomography

  • Yongning He (a1), Grant J. Jensen (a1) (a2) and Pamela J. Bjorkman (a1) (a2)


While electron cryotomography (ECT) provides “molecular” resolution, three-dimensional images of unique biological specimens, sample crowdedness, and/or resolution limitations can make it difficult to identify specific macromolecular components. Here we used a 1.4 nm Nanogold® cluster specifically attached to the Fc fragment of IgG to monitor its interaction with the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn), a membrane-bound receptor that transports IgG across cells in acidic intracellular vesicles. ECT was used to image complexes formed by Nanogold-labeled Fc bound to FcRn attached to the outer surface of synthetic liposomes. In the resulting three-dimensional reconstructions, 1.4 nm Nanogold particles were distributed predominantly along the interfaces where 2:1 FcRn-Fc complexes bridged adjacent lipid bilayers. These results demonstrate that the 1.4 nm Nanogold cluster is visible in tomograms of typically thick samples (∼250 nm) recorded with defocuses appropriate for large macromolecules and is thus an effective marker.


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