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Fluorescent foci quantitation for high-throughput analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 01.10.2020 by Elena Ledesma-Fernández, Peter H Thorpe
A number of cellular proteins localize to discrete foci within cells, for example DNA repair proteins, microtubule organizing centers, P bodies or kinetochores. It is often possible to measure the fluorescence emission from tagged proteins within these foci as a surrogate for the concentration of that specific protein. We wished to develop tools that would allow quantitation of fluorescence foci intensities in high-throughput studies. As proof of principle we have examined the kinetochore, a large multi-subunit complex that is critical for the accurate segregation of chromosomes during cell division. Kinetochore perturbations lead to aneuploidy, which is a hallmark of cancer cells. Hence, understanding kinetochore homeostasis and regulation are important for a global understanding of cell division and genome integrity. The 16 budding yeast kinetochores colocalize within the nucleus to form a single focus. Here we have created a set of freely-available tools to allow high-throughput quantitation of kinetochore foci fluorescence. We use this 'FociQuant' tool to compare methods of kinetochore quantitation and we show proof of principle that FociQuant can be used to identify changes in kinetochore protein levels in a mutant that affects kinetochore function. This analysis can be applied to any protein that forms discrete foci in cells.