Resolving the molecular architecture of the photoreceptor active zone by MINFLUX nanoscopy


Grabner CP, Jansen I, Neef J, Weiss T, Schmidt R, Riedel D, Wurm CA, Moser T




bioRxiv 2021.05.28.446138.


Cells assemble macromolecular complexes into scaffoldings that serve as substrates for catalytic processes. Years of molecular neurobiology indicate that neurotransmission depends on such optimization strategies, yet the molecular topography of the presynaptic Active Zone (AZ) where transmitter is released upon synaptic vesicle (SV) fusion remains to be visualized. Therefore, we implemented MINFLUX optical nanoscopy to resolve the AZ of rod photoreceptors. To facilitate MINFLUX nanoscopy of the AZ, we developed and verified an immobilization technique, we name Heat Assisted Rapid Dehydration (HARD). Here fresh retinal slices are directly stamped onto glass coverslips yielding a single layer of rod AZs. These AZs exhibited excellent labeling efficiency and minimal signal redundancy in the Z-direction. Our data indicate that the SV release site is a molecular complex of bassoon-Rab3-binding molecule 2 (RIM2)-ubMunc13-2-CAST. The complexes are serially duplicated longitudinally, and reflected in register along the axis of symmetry of the synaptic ribbon.