The microscopic technique, developed by researchers at Queen Mary University of London, represents a major advance for cell biologists as it will allow them to investigate structures deep inside the cell, such as viruses, bacteria and parts of the nucleus in depth.
Recent advances in optical physics have made it possible to use fluorescent microscopy to study complex structures smaller than 200 nanometres (nm) – around 500 times smaller than the width of a human hair. These methodologies are called super-resolution microscopy.
The drawback of such techniques is that they can only produce very clear images of structures that are at the bottom of the cell. Since the nucleus – the cell's 'control centre' – is in the middle of the cell and bacterial and viral infections can happen anywhere in the cell, this technique has considerable limitations for biologists.
This study shows how these issues have been overcome with a newly developed imaging system, making it possible to image structures as small as 80nm or less anywhere in the cell. The Spinning Disk Statistical Imaging (SDSI) system was developed by Dr Neveen Hosny, a bioengineer working with Professor Martin Knight in the School of Engineering and Materials Science and Dr Ann Wheeler, Head of Imaging at Queen Mary's Blizard Institute.
Dr Ann Wheeler said: "The spinning disk microscope produces focused images at high speed because it has a disk with an array of tiny holes in it which remove the out of focus light. We have combined this microscope with new fluorescent probes, which switch between a bright and dark state rapidly. This system is now allowing us to see structures three times smaller than could usually be seen using standard light microscopes.
"We have been able to visualise chromatin, which is the protein structure that controls DNA expression and the nuclear envelope. We have also used the method to get images of focal adhesions – sub-cellular macromolecules which the cell uses to attach to its environment.
"Although it was previously possible to see these structures, our method provdes a greater degree of detail. It also allows us to look at protein complexes which are smaller than 200nm in the nucleus, which hasn't been done before."
The microscope is housed in its own room with a carefully controlled environment to miminise vibrations.
Professor Knight added: "Super resolution microscopy is a major step forward and we are looking forward to using this technology in a wide range of applications from stem cell behaviour to understanding arthritis or the development of nanomedicine."
Dr Wheeler has worked with colleagues across Queen Mary to make the technique cost-effective and easy to use for scientists who are not experts in optical physics.
Dr Wheeler added: "We will be continuing to develop the technology to improve the fluorescent probes used for this technique and also applying it to cellular processes such as invasion in cancer."
The development and an analysis of the SDSI system is published today (Wednesday 9 October) in the journal PLOS ONE.
Neha Okhandiar | EurekAlert!
Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms
17.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz
New functional principle to generate the „third harmonic“
16.02.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
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”...
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...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
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...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
20.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering
17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering