Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists pioneer microscopy technique that yields fresh data on muscular dystrophy

18.09.2014

New imaging tech lets scientists 'paint' a target in a living subject and watch it work -- with unprecedented sensitivity and precision

Scientists at USC have developed a new microscopy technology that allows them to view single molecules in living animals at higher-than-ever resolution.


A new single-molecule imaging technique developed at USC provides new insights into the role of dystrophin proteins for muscle function in Caenorhabditis elegans worm models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Credit: Courtesy of Fabien Pinaud

Dubbed "Complementation Activated Light Microscopy" (CALM), the new technology allows imaging resolutions that are an order of magnitude finer than conventional optical microscopy, providing new insights into the behavior of biomolecules at the nanometer scale.

In a paper published on Sept. 18 by Nature Communications, the researchers behind CALM used it to study dystrophin – a key structural protein of muscle cells – in Caenorhabditis elegans worms used to model Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most severe and most common form of the degenerative disease.

The researchers showed that dystrophin was responsible for regulating tiny molecular fluctuations in calcium channels while muscles are in use. The discovery suggests that a lack of functional dystrophin alters the dynamics of ion channels – helping to cause the defective mechanical responses and the calcium imbalance that impair normal muscle activity in patients with muscular dystrophy.

Ten Times the Precision of Optical Microscopy

CALM works by splitting a green fluorescent protein from a jellyfish into two fragments that fit together like puzzle pieces. One fragment is engineered to be expressed in an animal test subject while the other fragment is injected into the animal's circulatory system.

When they meet, the fragments unite and start emitting fluorescent light that can be detected with incredible accuracy, offering imaging precisions of around 20 nanometers. Conventional optical microscopy of living tissues can only achieve a 200 nanometer resolution at best. For scale, a sheet of paper is 100,000 nanometers thick.

"Now, for the first time, we can explore the basic principles of homeostatic controls and the molecular basis of diseases at the nanometer scale directly in intact animal models," said Fabien Pinaud, assistant professor at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and lead researcher on the project.

Pinaud collaborated with scientists from the University Claude Bernard Lyon in France and the University of Würzburg in Germany.

Building the Tools for Tomorrow's Research

The new technology lies at the heart of the convergence of science and engineering at USC, where researchers from both fields collaborate to create the tools that make scientific and medical breakthroughs possible.

"There are trillions of proteins at work on an infinitely small scale at every moment in an animal's body. The ability to detect individual protein copies in their native tissue environment allows us to reveal their functional organization and their nanoscale molecular behaviors despite this astronomical complexity," Pinaud said.

Next, Pinaud and his colleagues will focus on engineering other colors of split-fluorescent proteins to image the dynamics of individual ion channels at neuromuscular synapses within live worms.

"It so happens that the same calcium channels we studied in muscles also associate with nanometer-sized membrane domains at synapses where they modulate neuronal transmissions in both normal and disease conditions," Pinaud said. Using multi-color CALM, his team and collaborators will probe how these tiny active zones of neurons are assembled and how they influence the function of calcium channels during neuron activation.

###

This research was funded by USC startup funds and the computational work was supported by the USC Center for High-Performance Computing and Communications.

Robert Perkins | Eurek Alert!

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized
23.05.2017 | Waseda University

nachricht Computer accurately identifies and delineates breast cancers on digital tissue slides
11.05.2017 | Case Western Reserve University

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>