Two-Photon Photoactivation to Measure Histone Exchange Dynamics in Plant Root Cells.

Chromatin-binding proteins play a crucial role in chromatin structure and gene expression. Direct binding of chromatin proteins both maintains and regulates transcriptional states. It is therefore important to study the binding properties of these proteins in vivo within the natural environment of the nucleus. Photobleaching, photoactivation and photoconversion (photoswitching) can provide a non-invasive experimental approach to study dynamic properties of living cells and organisms. We used photoactivation to determine exchange dynamics of histone H2B in plant stem cells of the root (Rosa et al., 2014). The stem cells of the root are located in the middle of the tissue, which made it impossible to carry out photoactivation of sufficiently small and well-defined sub-cellular regions with conventional laser illumination in the confocal microscope, mainly because scattering and refraction effects within the root tissue dispersed the focal spot and caused photoactivation of too large a region. We therefore used 2-photon activation, which has much better inherent resolution of the illuminated region. This is because the activation depends on simultaneous absorption of two or more photons, which in turns depends on the square (or higher power) of the intensity-a much sharper peak. In this protocol we will describe the experimental procedure to perform two-photon photoactivation experiments and the corresponding image analysis. This protocol can be used for nuclear proteins tagged with photoactivable GFP (PA-GFP) expressed in root tissues.