Immunofluorescence is a powerful technique allowing the researcher to identify the location of a specific protein using a microscope. It relies on the availability of high quality antibodies raised to the target of interest and can be further complicated by the use of harsh chemicals during the sample fixing stage disrupting the protein structure.
The versatility of aptamers allows their unique advantages to be exploited across many types of microscopy fields:
Epifluorescence & Confocal microscopy
Aptamers are a great fit for both epifluorescence and confocal microscopy. Irregardless of the light source, aptamers outperform antibodies due to their smaller size, resulting in increased signal intensity and better signal-to-noise ratios. In confocal microscopy, this means ultra-clear visualisation of proteins within tissue sections.
Super-resolution microscopy is becoming increasingly popular as researchers wish to identify the location of proteins in greater detail, particularly in relation to other proteins and cellular structures. The small size of aptamers allows co-localisation experiments to be performed, allowing for a much smaller localisation range than using antibodies. Moreover, aptamers gain access to smaller, less accessible epitopes present on the target.