Correlative Synchrotron Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy and Single Molecule Super Resolution Microscopy for the Detection of Composition and Ultrastructure Alterations in Single Cells
Single molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) and synchrotron Fourier transform infrared (S-FTIR) spectroscopy are two techniques capable of elucidating unique and valuable biological detail. SMLM provides images of the structures and distributions of targeted biomolecules at spatial resolutions up to an order of magnitude better than the diffraction limit, whereas IR spectroscopy objectively measures the holistic biochemistry of an entire sample, thereby revealing any variations in overall composition. Both tools are currently applied extensively to detect cellular response to disease, chemical treatment, and environmental change. Here, these two techniques have been applied correlatively at the single cell level to probe the biochemistry of common fixation methods and have detected various fixation-induced losses of biomolecular composition and cellular ultrastructure. Furthermore, by extensive honing and optimizing of fixation protocols, many fixation artifacts previously considered pervasive and regularly identified using IR spectroscopy and fluorescence techniques have been avoided. Both paraformaldehyde and two-step glutaraldehyde fixation were identified as best preserving biochemistry for both SMLM and IR studies while other glutaraldehyde and methanol fixation protocols were demonstrated to cause significant biochemical changes and higher variability between samples. Moreover, the potential complementarity of the two techniques was strikingly demonstrated in the correlated detection of biochemical changes as well as in the detection of fixation-induced damage that was only revealed by one of the two techniques.