Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

“Windows” into the Cell’s Interior - New Method Enables Deeper Insights into the Cell

19.03.2012
Cryo-electron tomography provides high-resolution, three-dimensional insights into the cell.

However, with this method only very small cells or thin peripheral regions of larger cells can be investigated directly. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) in Martinsried near Munich have now developed a procedure to provide access to cellular regions which were previously nearly inaccessible.


'Shock frozen' cell after treatment with the ion beam. Graphic: Alexander Rigort & Felix Bäuerlein / Copyright: MPI of Biochemistry

Using focused ion beam (FIB) technology, specific cellular material can be cut out, opening up thin “windows” into the cell’s interior. This alternative approach enables the preparation of larger cellular samples devoid of artefacts. The study was recently published in PNAS USA.

With cryo-electron tomography, pioneered by the Department of Molecular Structural Biology headed by Wolfgang Baumeister, researchers can now directly analyze three-dimensional cellular structures. The entire cell or individual cell components are “shock frozen” and enclosed in glass-like ice, thus preserving their spatial structure. The transmission electron microscope then enables the acquisition of two-dimensional projections from different perspectives. Finally, the scientists reconstruct a high-resolution three-dimensional volume from these images. However, the electron beam can penetrate only very thin specimens (for example bacteria cells) up to a thickness of 500 nanometers. Cells of higher organisms are clearly thicker. State-of-the-art electron microscopic preparation techniques are therefore necessary to make also larger objects accessible for cryo-electron tomography.
“The artefact-free and, in particular, targeted preparation of larger cells is a critical step,” explained Alexander Rigort, MPIB scientist. “With the traditional methods, we could never rule out that structures we wanted to investigate were changed.” The meaningfulness of the results was therefore limited, according to the biologist.

Using a focused ion beam microscope (FIB), researchers can now mill single layers of the frozen-hydrated cell and remove them in a controlled manner – thus rendering thin, tailor-made electron-transparent “windows”. An additional advantage of ion thinning is that mechanical sectioning artefacts are completely avoided. This method was originally developed for the material sciences. In structural biology the method shall now provide deeper insights into the molecular organization of the cell’s interior. The thinner the “windows” are, the higher the attainable resolution in the electron microscope. “Now precise insights into the macromolecular architecture of cell regions are possible that were previously nearly inaccessible for cryo-electron microscopy,” said Jürgen Plitzko, scientist at the MPIB.
Original Publication
A. Rigort, F. Bäuerlein, E. Villa, M. Eibauer, T. Laugks, W. Baumeister and J. M. Plitzko: Focused Ion Beam micromachining of eukaryotic cells for cryoelectron tomography. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, March 5, 2012
Doi:10.1073/pnas.1201333109.

Contact
Dr. Jürgen M. Plitzko
Molecular Structural Biology
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried
Germany
E-Mail: plitzko@biochem.mpg.de
http://www.biochem.mpg.de/baumeister

Dr. Alexander Rigort
Molecular Structural Biology
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried
Germany
E-Mail: rigort@biochem.mpg.de

Anja Konschak
Public Relations
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried
Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 89 8578-2824
E-Mail: konschak@biochem.mpg.de

Anja Konschak | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.biochem.mpg.de
http://www.biochem.mpg.de/baumeister

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood
23.02.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht New Mechanisms of Gene Inactivation may prevent Aging and Cancer
23.02.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>