Super-resolution imaging of the natural killer cell immunological synapse on a glass-supported planar lipid bilayer

Peilin Zheng, Grant Bertolet, Yuhui Chen, Shengjian Huang, Dongfang Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The glass-supported planar lipid bilayer system has been utilized in a variety of disciplines. One of the most useful applications of this technique has been in the study of immunological synapse formation, due to the ability of the glass-supported planar lipid bilayers to mimic the surface of a target cell while forming a horizontal interface. The recent advances in super-resolution imaging have further allowed scientists to better view the fine details of synapse structure. In this study, one of these advanced techniques, stimulated emission depletion (STED), is utilized to study the structure of natural killer (NK) cell synapses on the supported lipid bilayer. Provided herein is an easy-to-follow protocol detailing: how to prepare raw synthetic phospholipids for use in synthesizing glass-supported bilayers; how to determine how densely protein of a given concentration occupies the bilayer's attachment sites; how to construct a supported lipid bilayer containing antibodies against NK cell activating receptor CD16; and finally, how to image human NK cells on this bilayer using STED super-resolution microscopy, with a focus on distribution of perforin positive lytic granules and filamentous actin at NK synapses. Thus, combining the glass-supported planar lipid bilayer system with STED technique, we demonstrate the feasibility and application of this combined technique, as well as intracellular structures at NK immunological synapse with super-resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere52502
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number96
StatePublished - Feb 11 2015


  • Imaging
  • Immunological synapse
  • Immunology
  • Issue 96
  • Natural killer cells
  • STED
  • Super-resolution
  • Supported lipid bilayer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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