Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cells’ generators star in action movie

13.12.2001


The star of the show: mitochondria.
© SPL


American Society for Cell Biology Meeting, Washington, December 2001

Microscope captures mitochondria bopping to a beat.


An intricate mesh of tubes wiggle, worm-like across the screen. "They’re speeding," says Tim Richardson proudly, watching mitochondria, the cell’s energy generators, zoom around the cell. His controversial microscopic method is shooting the cell’s innards as they’ve never been seen before.



Live cell imaging has revolutionised cell biology over the last 5 years. Using fluorescent labels, proteins can be tracked and filmed in real time. But the lasers used to make the dyes fluoresce exhaust them within seconds and damage or kill living cells.

Six years in the making, Richardson and his colleagues at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada have developed a new technique for peering inside the cell. Their movie, ’Dance of Mitochondria in the Living Cell’ is drawing audiences at this week’s the American Society for Cell Biology meeting in Washington DC.

"I’ve not seen anything like that before," says Andrew Waterfall, director of microscope imaging company Improvision based in Coventry, UK. A high resolution technique that keeps cells happy is "the holy grail of microscopy," he says.

Methods which harm the cell make the validity of observations questionable. "Lots of people’s biological research has gone as far as current light microscopy can see," says Waterfall.

Bopping to the beats of a customised classical soundtrack, mitochondria, the rigid rods of textbook biology are exposed. The speedy shape-shifters sprint across the cell in as little as 5 seconds. "We weren’t expecting to see mitochondria moving," says Richardson. The network of interconnecting filaments also randomly branch and fuse.

Defective mitochondria implicated in inherited diseases, such as childhood fatal condition Leigh’s syndrome, cannot suck up fluorescent dyes and were previously inscrutable. In these patients, Richardson’s technique shows, the mitochondrial filaments are thicker or spherical and static.

Whether these mobility problems contribute to the symptoms of the disease, or are a byproduct of underlying metabolic problems in mitochondrial proteins, is unclear. "We’re trying to interface between clinical and basic science," says team member Nu-An Pham.

Sceptics have questioned whether the movements are spontaneous, however. Mitochondrial ’dance’ might be a passive side-effect of movement in the cytoplasm, or even created by the heat of powerful lamps, points out mitochondria researcher Robert Balaban of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Some evidence does suggest that mitochondria move to areas in the cell where most energy is needed. "That would be intriguing," says Balaban.

Existing light microscopes have trouble capturing transparent structures such as mitochondria, or making out finer details. Richardson’s ’Real-Time Microscopy’ uses light to produces images at a resolution of 200 nanometres, twice that of existing light microscopes and able to capture the 500 nanometre mitochondria with ease. Movies are captured on broadcast quality recorders. "It’s hugely expensive", admits Richardson.

The team, however, are cagey about the details of their technique until they are patented, describing them only as "beyond" existing techniques. The hush-hush attitude has raised hackles. "Not to show the results is inappropriate," says Balbaban.

In future, Richardson hopes to use the technique to shoot videos of many cell types and micro-organisms in action

HELEN PEARSON | © Nature News Service
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/nsu/011213/011213-12.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>