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

p 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.


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

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