Super-resolution going viral: T4 virus particles as perfect nature-designed 3D-Bio-NanoRulers


Gallea JI, Nevskyi O, Kazmierczak Z, Chen T, Miernikiewicz P, Chizhik A, Dabrowska K, Bates M, Enderlein J




bioRxiv 2024.04.04.588072.


In the burgeoning field of super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, significant efforts are being dedicated to expanding its applications into the three-dimensional domain. Various methodologies have been developed that enable isotropic resolution at the nanometer scale, facilitating the visualization of three-dimensional subcellular structures with unprecedented clarity. Central to this progress is the need for reliable 3D structures that are biologically compatible for validating resolution capabilities. Choosing the optimal standard poses a considerable challenge, necessitating, among other attributes, precisely defined geometry and the capability for specific labeling at sub-diffraction-limit distances.

In this context, we introduce the use of the non-human-infecting virus, bacteriophage T4, as an effective and straightforward bio-ruler for three-dimensional super-resolution imaging. Employing DNA point accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (DNA-PAINT) along with the technique of astigmatic imaging, we uncover the icosahedral capsid of the bacteriophage T4, measuring 120 nm in length and 86 nm in width, and its hollow viral tail. This level of detail in light microscopy represents a significant advancement. We further outline a simple protocol for the production and preparation of samples. Moreover, we explore the extensive potential of bacteriophage T4 as a multi-faceted 3D bio-ruler, proposing its application as a novel benchmark for three-dimensional super-resolution imaging in biological studies.