Nanoscale Distribution of Nuclear Sites by Super-Resolved Image Cross-Correlation Spectroscopy

Michele Oneto, Lorenzo Scipioni, Maria J. Sarmento, Isotta Cainero, Simone Pelicci, Laura Furia, Pier G. Pelicci, Gaetano I. Dellino, Paolo Bianchini, Mario Faretta, Enrico Gratton, Alberto Diaspro, Luca Lanzanò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deciphering the spatiotemporal coordination between nuclear functions is important to understand its role in the maintenance of human genome. In this context, super-resolution microscopy has gained considerable interest because it can be used to probe the spatial organization of functional sites in intact single-cell nuclei in the 20–250 nm range. Among the methods that quantify colocalization from multicolor images, image cross-correlation spectroscopy (ICCS) offers several advantages, namely it does not require a presegmentation of the image into objects and can be used to detect dynamic interactions. However, the combination of ICCS with super-resolution microscopy has not been explored yet. Here, we combine dual-color stimulated emission depletion (STED) nanoscopy with ICCS (STED-ICCS) to quantify the nanoscale distribution of functional nuclear sites. We show that super-resolved ICCS provides not only a value of the colocalized fraction but also the characteristic distances associated to correlated nuclear sites. As a validation, we quantify the nanoscale spatial distribution of three different pairs of functional nuclear sites in MCF10A cells. As expected, transcription foci and a transcriptionally repressive histone marker (H3K9me3) are not correlated. Conversely, nascent DNA replication foci and the proliferating cell nuclear antigen(PCNA) protein have a high level of proximity and are correlated at a nanometer distance scale that is close to the limit of our experimental approach. Finally, transcription foci are found at a distance of 130 nm from replication foci, indicating a spatial segregation at the nanoscale. Overall, our data demonstrate that STED-ICCS can be a powerful tool for the analysis of the nanoscale distribution of functional sites in the nucleus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2054-2065
Number of pages12
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Dec 3 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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