Huntingtin-associated protein 1 (HAP1) is abundantly expressed in the neurons of the central nervous system and forms unique intracytoplasmic inclusions of unknown function called 'stigmoid bodies' (STBs). Transmission electron microscopy has revealed that the STBs are aggregates of granules containing cavities with a diameter of 0.5-3 μm. Small STBs fuse to form larger STBs, the size of which is said to vary depending on the developmental growth stage and brain region. Light microscopy can only reveal that these STBs have similar circular shapes due to its limited resolution. Therefore, light microscopy is only fit for the study of the STB distribution and quantitative changes. We, herein, suggest the adoption of correlative light and electron microscopy, which combines confocal laser scanning microscopy and scanning electron microscopy as the method allowing us to identify the huntingtin-associated protein 1-positive STBs in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) sections. This approach allows us to study the three-dimensional morphology of immunolabeled objects in histopathological specimens. The STBs in FFPE sections of murine hypothalami reflected the transmission electron microscopic images of Epon-embedded STBs, although we were not able to observe any organelle covering the STBs of the FFPE sections. Furthermore, we were able to reconstruct the three-dimensional structure of the STB, and we identified it to be of spherical form, covered with mitochondria and rough endoplasmic reticulum, and bearing a cluster of cavities in the centre. In the future, we might gain new insights by comparing the three-dimensional structure of the STB between different neurons and under a variety of conditions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging