Scanning Electron-Assisted Dielectric Microscopy Reveals Autophagosome Formation by LC3 and ATG12 in Cultured Mammalian Cells.


Okada T(1), Ogura T(1).
Author information:
(1)Health and Medical Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
(AIST), Central 6, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8566, Japan.


Autophagy is an intracellular self-devouring system that plays a central role in cellular recycling. The formation of functional autophagosomes depends on several autophagy-related proteins, including the microtubule-associated proteins 1A/1B light chain 3 (LC3) and the conserved autophagy-related gene 12 (Atg12). We have recently developed a novel scanning electron-assisted dielectric microscope (SE-ADM) for nanoscale observations of intact cells. Here, we used the SE-ADM system to observe LC3- and Atg12-containing autophagosomes in cells labelled in the culture medium with antibodies conjugated to colloidal gold particles. We observed that, during autophagosome formation, Atg12 localized along the actin meshwork structure, whereas LC3 formed arcuate or circular alignments. Our system also showed a difference in the distribution of LC3 and Atg12; Atg12 was broadly distributed while LC3 was more localized. The difference in the spatial distribution demonstrated by our system explains the difference in the size of fluorescent spots due to the fluorescently labelled antibodies observed using optical microscopy. The direct SE-ADM observation of cells should thus be effective in analyses of autophagosome formation.