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In the Detail

Combination of microscopy techniques enables capture of intricate cellular details

20 September 2021

In the Detail

To get the lay of the land, you need to be able to see the whole picture, the roads, the houses, the green spaces. It’s a similar story when imaging cells and it’s why researchers often combine fluorescence microscopy of labelled proteins with label-free microscopy, such as atomic force microscopy (AFM), which captures the broader cell environment. However, AFM deforms cell shapes, losing accurate information along the depth of the cell. Researchers now present an alternative to AFM that better preserves cell shape – scanning ion-conductance microscopy (SICM). Used alongside cell dyes and a type of live-cell imaging called super-resolution optical fluctuation imaging (SOFI), the team successfully matched SICM and SOFI images to create intricate 2D and 3D cell models. For example, they captured highly detailed 2D images (pictured) of cell architecture proteins, tubulin (green, top left) and actin (red, lower left), in cells in a dish. This provides another tool to investigate cellular processes in greater detail.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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