Navigation Links
New microscopy technique offers close-up, real-time view of cellular phenomena
Date:3/14/2010

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. For two decades, scientists have been pursuing a potential new way to treat bacterial infections, using naturally occurring proteins known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Now, MIT scientists have recorded the first microscopic images showing the deadly effects of AMPs, most of which kill by poking holes in bacterial cell membranes.

Researchers in the laboratory of MIT Professor Angela Belcher modified an existing, extremely sensitive technique known as high-speed atomic force microscopy (AFM) to allow them to image the bacteria in real time. Their method, described in this Sunday's online edition of Nature Nanotechnology, represents the first way to study living cells using high-resolution images recorded in rapid succession.

Using this type of high-speed AFM could allow scientists to study how cells respond to other drugs and to viral infection, says Belcher, the Germeshausen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering. The new work could also help researchers understand how some bacteria can become resistant to AMPs (none of which have been approved as drugs yet).

Atomic force microscopy, invented in 1986, is widely used to image nanoscale materials. Its resolution is similar to that of electron microscopy, but unlike electron microscopy, it does not require a vacuum and thus can be used with living samples. However, traditional AFM requires several minutes to produce one image, so it cannot record a sequence of rapidly occurring events.

In recent years, scientists have developed high-speed AFM techniques, but haven't optimized them for living cells. That's what the MIT team set out to do, building on the experience of lead author Georg Fantner, a postdoctoral associate in Belcher's lab who had worked on high-speed AFM at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

How they did it: Atomic force microscopy makes use of a cantilever equipped with a probe tip that "feels" the surface of a sample. Forces between the tip and the sample can be measured as the probe moves across the sample, revealing the shape of the surface. The MIT team used a cantilever about 1,000 times smaller than those normally used for AFM, which enabled them to increase the imaging speed without harming the bacteria.

With the new setup, the team was able to take images every 13 seconds over a period of several minutes. They found that AMP-induced cell death appears to be a two-step process: a short incubation period followed by a rapid "execution." They were surprised to see that the onset of the incubation period varied from 13 to 80 seconds.

"Not all of the cells started dying at the exact same time, even though they were genetically identical and were exposed to the peptide at the same time," says Roberto Barbero, a graduate student in biological engineering and an author of the paper.

Next steps: In the future, Belcher hopes to use atomic force microscopy to study other cellular phenomena, including the assembly of viruses in infected cells, and the effects of traditional antibiotics on bacterial cells. The technique may also prove useful in studying mammalian cells.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jen Hirsch
jfhirsch@mit.edu
617-253-1682
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. NIH grant will boost electron microscopy at Brandeis
2. The sound of light: Innovative technology shatters the barriers of modern light microscopy
3. Milestone in live microscopy focus of $2 million NIH grant
4. Next generation microscopy: No stain, big gain
5. $1.1 million NSF grant to fund research in advanced light microscopy at UCLA
6. New technique allows study of protein folding, dynamics in living cells
7. Laser surgery technique gets new life in art restoration
8. Cameras of the future: heart researchers create revolutionary photographic technique
9. Virus-free technique enables Stanford scientists to easily make stem cells pluripotent
10. Enlisting a drug discovery technique in the battle against global warming
11. New edition of popular lab manual presents latest techniques for probing cellular dynamics
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/23/2017)... , May 23, 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the ... been officially launched in Genoa, Italy . The first ... and the USA . The technology was developed ... market by the IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million ... News Release, please click: ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... April 24, 2017 Janice Kephart ... with  Identity Strategy Partners, LLP (IdSP) , today ... without President Trump,s March 6, 2017 Executive ... , refugee vetting can be instilled with greater confidence, ... now, all refugee applications are suspended by until ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... MONICA, Calif. , April 13, 2017 ... New York will feature emerging and evolving ... Summits. Both Innovation Summits will run alongside the expo ... of speaker sessions, panels and demonstrations focused on trending ... coast,s largest advanced design and manufacturing event will take ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Today, 3Bar Biologics Inc ., the ... funding from an impressive group of investors, including Rev1 Ventures, Maumee Ventures, Ohio ... investment, 3Bar is broadening availability of its groundbreaking offering that uses naturally occurring ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... After spending the past two years building a state-of-the-art ... GeneFo now offers this platform to healthcare stakeholders (hospitals, foundations, biopharma ... and data collection vis a vis their members, under their own ... of this offer. ... ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Any expert in stem cell research or stem cell medicine ... half a century. Despite their essential roles in human health and regenerative medicine, ... tags developed for this purpose also tag other, more abundant, non-stem tissue cells ( ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... August 15, 2017 , ... JULABO USA introduces ... the new website makes it easy to navigate through the site whether you’re ... find detailed product information, educational industry content and visit the company’s social media ...
Breaking Biology Technology: