Metallothionein as a clonable tag for protein localization by electron microscopy of cells

M. K. Morphew, E. T. O'Toole, C. L. Page, M. Pagratis, J. Meehl, T. Giddings, J. M. Gardner, C. Ackerson, S. L. Jaspersen, Mark Winey, A. Hoenger, J. R. Mcintosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A benign, clonable tag for the localization of proteins by electron microscopy of cells would be valuable, especially if it provided labelling with high signal-to-noise ratio and good spatial resolution. Here we explore the use of metallothionein as such a localization marker. We have achieved good success with desmin labelled in vitro and with a component of the yeast spindle pole body labelled in cells. Heavy metals added after fixation and embedding or during the process of freeze-substitution fixation provide readily visible signals with no concern that the heavy atoms are affecting the behaviour of the protein in its physiological environment. However, our methods did not work with protein components of the nuclear pore complex, suggesting that this approach is not yet universally applicable. We provide a full description of our optimal labelling conditions and other conditions tried, hoping that our work will allow others to label their own proteins of interest and/or improve on the methods we have defined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-29
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Clonable labels
  • Electron microscopy
  • Immuno-electron microscopy
  • Metallothionein
  • Nanoparticles
  • Protein labels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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