Imaging single events at the cell membrane


The ability to sense and respond to the environment is a hallmark of living systems. These processes occur at the levels of the organism, cells and individual molecules. Sensing of extracellular changes could result in a structural or chemical alteration in a molecule, which could in turn trigger a cascade of intracellular signals or regulated trafficking of molecules at the cell surface. These and other such processes allow cells to sense and respond to environmental changes. Often, these changes and the responses to them are spatially and/or temporally localized, and visualization of such events necessitates the use of high-resolution imaging approaches. Here we discuss optical imaging approaches and tools for imaging individual events at the cell surface with improved speed and resolution.

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Figure 1: Resolution of various optical imaging approaches.
Figure 2: Comparison of wide-field and TIRF imaging.
Figure 3: Use of TIRFM to study behavior of individual vesicles near the cell membrane.
Figure 4: Myosin V processive run with heads labeled with QDs of different colors.


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Work in our laboratory is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF FEB 00520813) and the National Institutes of Health (P20 GM072015 and GM072015 to S.M.S.). We thank P. Coffino for helpful comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sanford M Simon.

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Jaiswal, J., Simon, S. Imaging single events at the cell membrane. Nat Chem Biol 3, 92–98 (2007).

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