Super-resolution optical microscopy study of telomere structure

Mary Lisa Phipps, Peter M. Goodwin, Jennifer S. Martinez, Edwin H. Goodwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chromosome ends are shielded from exonucleolytic attack and inappropriate end-joining by terminal structures called telomeres; these structures are potential targets for anticancer drugs. Telomeres are composed of a simple DNA sequence (5′-TTAGGG-3′ in humans) repeated more than a thousand times, a short 3′ single-stranded overhang, and numerous proteins. Electron microscopy has shown that the 3′ overhang pairs with the complementary strand at an internal site creating a small displacement loop and a large double-stranded "t-loop." Our goal is to determine whether all telomeres adopt the t-loop configuration, or whether there are two or more distinct configurations. Progress in optimizing super-resolution (SR) microscopy for this ongoing investigation is reported here. Results suggest that under certain conditions sample preparation procedures may disrupt chromatin by causing loss of nucleosomes. This finding may limit the use of SR microscopy in telomere studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number094003
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA replication
  • super-resolution microscopy
  • telomere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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