This thesis describes the use of antibodies and immunofluorescence for subcellular localization of proteins. The key objective is the creation of an open-source atlas with information on the subcellular location of every human protein. Knowledge of the spatial distribution and the precise location of a protein within a cell is important for its functional characterization, and describing the human proteome in terms of compartment proteomes is important to decipher cellular organization and function.
Immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy of cultured cells were used for high-resolution detection of proteins on a high-throughput scale. Critical to immunofluorescence results are sample preparation and specific antibodies. Antibody staining of cells requires fixation and permeabilization, both of which can result in loss or redistribution of proteins and masking of epitopes. A high-throughput approach demands a standardized protocol suitable for the majority of proteins across cellular compartments. Paper I presents an evaluation of sample preparation techniques from which such a single fixation and permeabilization protocol was optimized. Paper II describes the results from applying this protocol to 4000 human proteins in three cell lines of different origin.
Paper III presents a strategy for application-specific antibody validation. Antibodies are the key reagents in immunofluorescence, but all antibodies have potential for off-target binding and should be validated thoroughly. Antibody performance varies across sample types and applications due to the competition present and the effect of the sample preparation on antigen accessibility. In this paper application-specific validation for immunofluorescence was conducted using colocalization with fluorescently tagged protein in transgenic cell lines.