Navigation Links
Now in 3-D: Video of virus-sized particle trying to enter cell

Tiny and swift, viruses are hard to capture on video. Now researchers at Princeton University have achieved an unprecedented look at a virus-like particle as it tries to break into and infect a cell. The technique they developed could help scientists learn more about how to deliver drugs via nanoparticles which are about the same size as viruses as well as how to prevent viral infection from occurring.

The video reveals a virus-like particle zipping around in a rapid, erratic manner until it encounters a cell, bounces and skids along the surface, and either lifts offagain or, in much less time than it takes to blink an eye, slips into the cell's interior. The work was published in Nature Nanotechnology.

"The challenge in imaging these events is that viruses and nanoparticles are small and fast, while cells are relatively large and immobile," said Kevin Welsher, a postdoctoral researcher in Princeton's Department of Chemistry and first author on the study. "That has made it very hard to capture these interactions."

The problem can be compared to shooting video of a hummingbird as it roams around a vast garden, said Haw Yang, associate professor of chemistry and Welsher's adviser. Focus the camera on the fast-moving hummingbird, and the background will be blurred. Focus on the background, and the bird will be blurred.

The researchers solved the problem by using two cameras, one that locked onto the virus-like nanoparticle and followed it faithfully, and another that filmed the cell and surrounding environment.

Putting the two images together yielded a level of detail about the movement of nano-sized particles that has never before been achieved, Yang said. Prior to this work, he said, the only way to see small objects at a similar resolution was to use a technique called electron microscopy, which requires killing the cell.

"What Kevin has done that is really different is that he can capture a three-dimensional view of a virus-sized particle attacking a living cell, whereas electron microscopy is in two-dimensions and on dead cells," Yang said. "This gives us a completely new level of understanding."

In addition to simply viewing the particle's antics, the researchers can use the technique to map the contours of the cell surface, which is bumpy with proteins that push up from beneath the surface. By following the particle's movement along the surface of the cell, the researchers were able to map the protrusions, just as a blind person might use his or her fingers to construct an image of a person's face.

"Following the motion of the particle allowed us to trace very fine structures with a precision of about 10 nanometers, which typically is only available with an electron microscope," Welsher said. (A nanometer is one billionth of a meter and roughly 1000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.) He added that measuring changes in the speed of the particle allowed the researchers to infer the viscosity of the extracellular environment just above the cell surface.

The technology has potential benefits for both drug discovery and basic scientific discovery, Yang said. "We believe this will impact the study of how nanoparticles can deliver medicines to cells, potentially leading to some new lines of defense in antiviral therapies," he said. "For basic research, there are a number of questions that can now be explored, such as how a cell surface receptor interacts with a viral particle or with a drug."

Welsher added that such basic research could lead to new strategies for keeping viruses from entering cells in the first place.

"If we understand what is happening to the virus before it gets to your cells," said Welsher, "then we can think about ways to prevent infection altogether. It is like deflecting missiles before they get there rather than trying to control the damage once you've been hit."

To create the virus-like particle, the researchers coated a miniscule polystyrene ball with quantum dots, which are semiconductor bits that emit light and allow the camera to find the particle. Next, the particle was studded with protein segments known as Tat peptides, derived from the HIV-1 virus, which help the particle find the cell. The width of the final particle was about 100 nanometers.

The researchers then let loose the particles into a dish containing skin cells known as fibroblasts. One camera followed the particle while a second imaging system took pictures of the cell using a technique called laser scanning microscopy, which involves taking multiple images, each in a slightly different focal plane, and combining them to make a three-dimensional picture.


Contact: Catherine Zandonella
Princeton University

Related biology news :

1. FASEB announces winners of second annual Stand Up for Science video contest
2. Celldance 2013 video awards, the Cell Oscars, roll out tiny red carpet
3. 5 tips for a better Thanksgiving: A new video by the American Chemical Society
4. Immunity studies cross scientific and continental borders (video)
5. Cooking tips from Alton Brown: A new American Chemical Society video
6. Frost & Sullivan Honours Cognitec for Blazing Trails in the Face Biometrics Market with its FaceVACS-VideoScan Technology
7. The Chemistry of Fear: A new video from the American Chemical Society
8. 2 online science video pioneers combine to form new
9. Playing video games can boost brain power
10. Elsevier launches first video journal in gastrointestinal endoscopy
11. FASEB announces BioArt image and video competition winners
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/1/2015)... , Oct. 1, 2015  Biometrics includes diverse ... human body characteristics, such as fingerprints, eye retinas, ... Adoption of biometrics technology has been constantly increasing ... last five years. In addition to the most ... fingerprint recognition, other means of biometric authentication are ...
(Date:9/30/2015)... global glucose monitoring device and diabetes management market is valued ... on the industry from Kalorama Information. Sales in the traditional glucose ... continuous glucose monitoring and sensor segment, according to the healthcare ... in its latest report, The Global Glucose Monitoring Market ... , ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... , Sept. 28, 2015 CLEAR, ... that its expedited traveler service is coming ... transforms travel, bringing a frictionless experience, serious ... "CLEAR offers our travelers an ... service," said Jim Smith , Executive ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13, 2015 Applied BioMath ( ... critical decision points throughout the drug invention process, announced ... Boston 2015 on October 20-22, 2015 in ... PhD, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Applied BioMath, will ... early research to clinical trials" on Wednesday October 21st ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... SAN DIEGO , Oct. 13, 2015 ... to collaborate in the development of a higher purity ... BASF under the Kolliphor ® P188 brand, is ... biological applications, such as a shear protectant in cell ... Mast,s lead product candidate. Under the agreement between BASF ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... Mass. and TORONTO , Oct. ... GNBT) today announced that it has entered into a non-binding ... ), a private Israeli company that has developed a proprietary ... infertile due to varicoceles. the United States ... between the ages of 25 and 44 diagnosed ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... personalized medicine, is excited to announce their partnership with the Keck Medicine ... genetics of chronic pain. , The T.R.O.J.A.N. Study (Therapeutic Evaluation to Research Clinical ...
Breaking Biology Technology: