An easy and rapid staining method for confocal microscopic observation and reconstruction of three-dimensional images of echinoderm larvae and juveniles

Kohei Tokanai, Yasuhiro Kamei, Takuya Minokawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The morphologies of the internal organs of echinoderm larvae and juveniles are difficult to study using conventional optical microscopes because of their structural complexity and opaqueness. This paper describes an easy and rapid protocol involving Nile blue staining followed by benzyl alcohol/benzyl benzoate (BABB) clearing to overcome this limitation. This method was developed for a three-dimensional (3D) analysis of the internal structures of advanced larvae and juveniles of echinoderms (the sea lily Metacrinus rotundus, the sea urchin Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus, and the sand dollar Scaphechinus mirabilis) and is suitable for obtaining serial optical images by confocal microscopy without the use of specific antibodies or special reagents for labeling. Nile blue is an easy-to-use stain that offers several advantages for confocal microscopy such as it can stain various tissues with strong fluorescent signals without substantial bleaching during observation. We found that the strong fluorescence signal of Nile blue quickly yielded clear high-resolution optical section images for 3D reconstruction. BABB clearing rendered opaque larvae highly transparent. The clearing procedure was also easy and quick. During the process, agarose embedding prior to staining and clearing was found to be critical for handling the samples of less than 500-μm length and stabilizing their orientations. To conclude, the protocol described is useful for performing a rapid and accurate 3D morphological analysis of echinoderm larvae and juveniles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-487
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopment Growth and Differentiation
Volume63
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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