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Researchers use X-ray diffraction microscope to reveal 3-D internal structure of whole cell
Date:6/15/2010

my. The work is a culmination of a collaboration started three years ago with Fuyu Tamanoi, UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. Miao and Tamanoi are both researchers at UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute. Other collaborators include teams at Riken Spring 8 in Japan and the Institute of Physics, Academia Sinica, in Taiwan.

"This is the first time that people have been able to peek into the 3-D internal structure of a biological specimen, without cutting it into sections, using X-ray diffraction microscopy," Miao said.

"By avoiding use of X-ray lenses, the resolution of X-ray diffraction microscopy is ultimately limited by radiation damage to biological specimens. Using cryogenic technologies, 3-D imaging of whole biological cells at a resolution of 5 to 10 nanometers should be achievable," Miao said. "Our work hence paves a way for quantitative 3-D imaging of a wide range of biological specimens at nanometer-scale resolutions that are too thick for electron microscopy."

Tamanoi prepared the yeast spore samples analyzed in this study. Spores are specialized cells that are formed when they are placed under nutrient-starved conditions. Cells use this survival strategy to cope with harsh conditions.

"Biologists wanted to examine internal structures of the spore, but previous microscopic studies provided information on only the surface features. We are very excited to be able to view the spore in 3-D", Tamanoi said. "We can now look into the structure of other spores, such as Anthrax spores and many other fungal spores. It is also important to point out that yeast spores are of similar size to many intracellular organelles in human cells. These can be examined in the future."

Since its first experimental demonstration by Miao and collaborators in 1999, coherent diffraction microscopy has been applied to imaging a wide range of materials science and biological specimens, such as nan
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Contact: Jennifer Marcus
jmarcus@cnsi.ucla.edu
310-267-4839
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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