Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New light microscope may help unlock some of cells' secrets

17.08.2006
A microscopy technique pioneered with the help of Florida State University's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory has led to the development of a new light microscope capable of looking at proteins on a molecular level.

The new light microscope is so powerful it allows scientists to peer deep inside cells to see the fundamental organization of the key structures within. Developed by researchers at Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia and the National Institutes of Health, in collaboration with FSU researchers Michael Davidson and Scott Olenych, the microscope is a boon to basic cell biology.

"As the technology advances, it may prove to be a key factor in unlocking the molecular-level secrets of intracellular dynamics," said Davidson, who directs the magnet lab's Optical Microscopy Group.

The microscope and technology appear online in the Aug. 10 issue of Science Express.

The idea for the light microscope and the related new method, called photoactivated localization microscopy, or PALM, was conceived by physicists Eric Betzig and Harald Hess of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, but they struggled with how to realize their vision. It was biological tools being studied in Davidson's lab that ultimately inspired the two physicists' plan to build a better microscope.

"In the world of biology, there is a new generation of fluorescent proteins that you can switch on at will with a little bit of violet light," Hess said. He and Betzig learned of these molecules, pioneered by Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz and George Patterson at NIH, during conversations with Davidson.

Davidson suggested that these "optical highlighters" would be the best candidates for Betzig and Hess' experiments. Davidson's group then genetically engineered the highlighters and fused them to natural proteins in his lab. This technique allowed the researchers to attach a label to each copy of a protein they wished to study.

Here's how the PALM technique works: The researchers label the molecules they want to study with a photoactivatable probe, and then expose those molecules to a small amount of violet light. The light activates fluorescence in a small percentage of molecules, and the microscope captures an image of those that are turned on until they bleach. The process is repeated approximately 10,000 times, with each repetition capturing the position of a different subset of molecules.

When a final image is created, it has a resolution previously only achievable with an electron microscope. However, the contrast in electron microscopy is more indiscriminate, whereas PALM can limit contrast to specific proteins of interest. Lippincott-Schwartz said the use of PALM in conjunction with electron microscopy is particularly powerful.

"A great feature of PALM is that it can readily be used with electron microscopy, which produces a detailed image of very small structures -- but not proteins -- in cells," she said. "By correlating a PALM image showing protein distribution with an electron microscope image showing cell structure of the same sample, it becomes possible to understand how molecules are individually distributed in a cellular structure at the molecular scale."

Michael Davidson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cites.fsu.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Seeing the quantum future... literally
16.01.2017 | University of Sydney

nachricht Airborne thermometer to measure Arctic temperatures
11.01.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>