Combining Light and X-Ray Microscopy

STED – stimulated emission depletion – image of a cardiac tissue cell from a rat. (Source: GAU)

Researchers at the Univer­sity of Goet­tingen have used a novel micro­scopy method. In doing so they were able to show both the illu­minated and the “dark side” of the cell. The team led by Tim Salditt and Sarah Köster from the Institute of X-Ray Physics attached small fluorescent markers to the molecules of interest, for example proteins or DNA. The controlled switching of the fluorescent dye in the STED – Stimu­lated Emission Depletion – micro­scope then enables highest reso­lution down to a few billionth of a meter.

The Goettingen team combined a light micro­scope according to the STED principle, which represents the illuminated area of the cell, with an X-ray micro­scope, which represents the unillu­minated area of the cell. “We used the inno­vative micro­scope to show a network of protein filaments in heart muscle cells,” explains researcher Marten Bernhardt. “The protein networks contained therein were mapped in STED mode. We were then able to fit these STED images into the X-ray images of the cell. Both recordings are recorded prac­tically directly one after another,” says Bernhardt.

“We hope that the comple­mentary contrasts will provide us with a more complete under­standing of the con­traction of heart muscle cells and their gene­ration of strength,” adds Salditt. In designing the STED microscope, the scientists worked closely with the research centre Deutsches Elek­tronen-Syn­chrotron DESY and the Abberior company founded by Goet­tingen Nobel Prize winner Stefan W. Hell. “In future, we also want to observe dynamic processes in living cells,” concludes Köster. (Source: GAU)

Reference: M. Bernhardt et al.: Correlative microscopy approach for biology using X-ray holography, X-ray scanning diffraction and STED microscopy, Nat. Commun. 9, 3641 (2018); DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05885-z

Link: Structure of Biomolecular Assemblies and X-Ray Physics (T. Salditt), Georg-August-University Göttingen, Göttingen


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