Imaging intranuclear actin rods in live heat stressed drosophila embryos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this protocol is to visualize intranuclear actin rods that assemble in live Drosophila melanogaster embryos following heat stress. Actin rods are a hallmark of a conserved, inducible Actin Stress Response (ASR) that accompanies human pathologies, including neurodegenerative disease. Previously, we showed that the ASR contributes to morphogenesis failures and reduced viability of developing embryos. This protocol allows the continued study of mechanisms underlying actin rod assembly and the ASR in a model system that is highly amenable to imaging, genetics and biochemistry. Embryos are collected and mounted on a coverslip to prepare them for injection. Rhodamine-conjugated globular actin (G-actinRed) is diluted and loaded into a microneedle. A single injection is made into the center of each embryo. After injection, embryos are incubated at elevated temperature and intranuclear actin rods are then visualized by confocal microscopy. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) experiments may be performed on the actin rods; and other actin-rich structures in the cytoplasm can also be imaged. We find that G-actinRed polymerizes like endogenous G-actin and does not, on its own, interfere with normal embryo development. One limitation of this protocol is that care must be taken during injection to avoid serious injury to the embryo. However, with practice, injecting G-actinRed into Drosophila embryos is a fast and reliable way to visualize actin rods and can easily be used with flies of any genotype or with the introduction of other cellular stresses, including hypoxia and oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere61297
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number159
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Actin Stress Response
  • Confocal Microscopy
  • Developmental Biology
  • Drosophila
  • Embryo
  • FRAP
  • G-actin
  • Intranuclear Actin Rods
  • Issue 159
  • Microinjection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Imaging intranuclear actin rods in live heat stressed drosophila embryos'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this