Pairs of different g-protein coupled receptors have been reported to heterodimerize. By doing so, they should exist within a few nanometers of each other. If these receptors do in fact heterodimerize, it should be possible to use light microscopy to detect single structures in the central nervous system that are labeled for both receptors.
These researchers have been able to detect single structures at the limit of resolution by confocal microscopy (i.e., smaller than 0.3 µm) that are labeled for two different types of receptors. Resolution could in principle be improved by deconvolving the confocal images, however. The researchers use MSI hardware and software to deconvolve such images. They anticipate at least a two-fold improvement in resolution by doing so. Obtaining higher-resolution images improves the ability to test which receptors, if any, may exist as heterodimers and to determine their distributions. The group is also planning to use MSI software to design probes that will allow them to localize various receptors using immunocytochemistry and/or in situ hybridization.