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110 Publications

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    09/20/16 | Bessel beam plane illumination microscope.
    Betzig E
    USPTO. 2016 Sep 20;B2:

    A microscope has a light source for generating a light beam having a wavelength, λ, and beam-forming optics configured for receiving the light beam and generating a Bessel-like beam that is directed into a sample. The beam-forming optics include an excitation objective having an axis oriented in a first direction. Imaging optics are configured for receiving light from a position within the sample that is illuminated by the Bessel-like beam and for imaging the received light on a detector. The imaging optics include a detection objective having an axis oriented in a second direction that is non-parallel to the first direction. A detector is configured for detecting signal light received by the imaging optics, and an aperture mask is positioned.

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    08/25/16 | Highly photostable, reversibly photoswitchable fluorescent protein with high contrast ratio for live-cell superresolution microscopy.
    Zhang X, Zhang M, Li D, He W, Peng J, Betzig E, Xu P
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2016 Aug 25;113(37):10364-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1611038113

    Two long-standing problems for superresolution (SR) fluorescence microscopy are high illumination intensity and long acquisition time, which significantly hamper its application for live-cell imaging. Reversibly photoswitchable fluorescent proteins (RSFPs) have made it possible to dramatically lower the illumination intensities in saturated depletion-based SR techniques, such as saturated depletion nonlinear structured illumination microscopy (NL-SIM) and reversible saturable optical fluorescence transition microscopy. The characteristics of RSFPs most critical for SR live-cell imaging include, first, the integrated fluorescence signal across each switching cycle, which depends upon the absorption cross-section, effective quantum yield, and characteristic switching time from the fluorescent "on" to "off" state; second, the fluorescence contrast ratio of on/off states; and third, the photostability under excitation and depletion. Up to now, the RSFPs of the Dronpa and rsEGFP (reversibly switchable EGFP) families have been exploited for SR imaging. However, their limited number of switching cycles, relatively low fluorescence signal, and poor contrast ratio under physiological conditions ultimately restrict their utility in time-lapse live-cell imaging and their ability to reach the desired resolution at a reasonable signal-to-noise ratio. Here, we present a truly monomeric RSFP, Skylan-NS, whose properties are optimized for the recently developed patterned activation NL-SIM, which enables low-intensity (∼100 W/cm(2)) live-cell SR imaging at ∼60-nm resolution at subsecond acquisition times for tens of time points over broad field of view.

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    08/17/16 | Membrane dynamics of dividing cells imaged by lattice light-sheet microscopy.
    Aguet F, Upadhyayula S, Gaudin R, Chou Y, Cocucci E, He K, Chen B, Mosaliganti K, Pasham M, Skillern W, Legant WR, Liu T, Findlay G, Marino E, Danuser G, Megason S, Betzig E, Kirchhausen T
    Molecular Biology of the Cell. 2016 Aug 17;27(22):3418-35. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E16-03-0164

    Membrane remodeling is an essential part for transfer of components to and from the cell surface and membrane-bound organelles, and for changes in cell shape, particularly critical during cell division. Earlier analyses, based on classical optical live-cell imaging, mostly restricted by technical necessity to the attached bottom surface, showed persistent formation of endocytic clathrin pits and vesicles during mitosis. Taking advantage of the resolution, speed, and non-invasive illumination of the newly developed lattice light sheet fluorescence microscope, we reexamined their assembly dynamics over the entire cell surface and showed that clathrin pits form at a lower rate during late mitosis. Full-cell imaging measurements of cell surface area and volume throughout the cell cycle of single cells in culture and in zebrafish embryos showed that the total surface increased rapidly during the transition from telophase to cytokinesis, whereas cell volume increased slightly in metaphase and remained relatively constant during cytokinesis. These applications demonstrate the advantage of lattice light sheet microscopy and enable a new standard for imaging membrane dynamics in single cells and in multicellular assemblies.

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    08/03/16 | Real-time imaging of Huntingtin aggregates diverting target search and gene transcription.
    Li L, Liu H, Dong P, Li D, Legant WR, Grimm JB, Lavis LD, Betzig E, Tjian R, Liu Z
    eLife. 2016 Aug 03;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.17056

    The presumptive altered dynamics of transient molecular interactions in vivo contributing to neurodegenerative diseases have remained elusive. Here, using single-molecule localization microscopy, we show that disease-inducing Huntingtin (mHtt) protein fragments display three distinct dynamic states in living cells - 1) fast diffusion, 2) dynamic clustering and 3) stable aggregation. Large, stable aggregates of mHtt exclude chromatin and form 'sticky' decoy traps that impede target search processes of key regulators involved in neurological disorders. Functional domain mapping based on super-resolution imaging reveals an unexpected role of aromatic amino acids in promoting protein-mHtt aggregate interactions. Genome-wide expression analysis and numerical simulation experiments suggest mHtt aggregates reduce transcription factor target site sampling frequency and impair critical gene expression programs in striatal neurons. Together, our results provide insights into how mHtt dynamically forms aggregates and disrupts the finely-balanced gene control mechanisms in neuronal cells.

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    06/10/16 | in vivo brain imaging with adaptive optical microscope.
    Wang K, Sun W, Ji N, Betzig E
    Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO): Applications and Technology. 2016 Jun :AM40.1. doi: 10.1364/CLEO_AT.2016.AM4O.1

    The diffraction limited resolution of two photon and confocal microscope can be recovered using adaptive optics to explore the detailed neuronal network in the brains of zebrafish and mouse in vivo.

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    04/14/16 | Flagellar membrane fusion and protein exchange in trypanosomes; a new form of cell-cell communication?
    Imhof S, Fragoso C, Hemphill A, von Schubert C, Li D, Legant W, Betzig E
    F1000 Research. 2016 Apr 14;5:682. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.8249.1

    Diverse structures facilitate direct exchange of proteins between cells, including plasmadesmata in plants and tunnelling nanotubes in bacteria and higher eukaryotes.  Here we describe a new mechanism of protein transfer, flagellar membrane fusion, in the unicellular parasite Trypanosoma brucei. When fluorescently tagged trypanosomes were co-cultured, a small proportion of double-positive cells were observed. The formation of double-positive cells was dependent on the presence of extracellular calcium and was enhanced by placing cells in medium supplemented with fresh bovine serum. Time-lapse microscopy revealed that double-positive cells arose by bidirectional protein exchange in the absence of nuclear transfer.  Furthermore, super-resolution microscopy showed that this process occurred in ≤1 minute, the limit of temporal resolution in these experiments. Both cytoplasmic and membrane proteins could be transferred provided they gained access to the flagellum. Intriguingly, a component of the RNAi machinery (Argonaute) was able to move between cells, raising the possibility that small interfering RNAs are transported as cargo. Transmission electron microscopy showed that shared flagella contained two axonemes and two paraflagellar rods bounded by a single membrane. In some cases flagellar fusion was partial and interactions between cells were transient. In other cases fusion occurred along the entire length of the flagellum, was stable for several hours and might be irreversible. Fusion did not appear to be deleterious for cell function: paired cells were motile and could give rise to progeny while fused. The motile flagella of unicellular organisms are related to the sensory cilia of higher eukaryotes, raising the possibility that protein transfer between cells via cilia or flagella occurs more widely in nature.

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    03/07/16 | High-density three-dimensional localization microscopy across large volumes.
    Legant WR, Shao L, Grimm JB, Brown TA, Milkie DE, Avants BB, Lavis LD, Betzig E
    Nature Methods. 2016 Mar 7:. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3797

    Extending three-dimensional (3D) single-molecule localization microscopy away from the coverslip and into thicker specimens will greatly broaden its biological utility. However, because of the limitations of both conventional imaging modalities and conventional labeling techniques, it is a challenge to localize molecules in three dimensions with high precision in such samples while simultaneously achieving the labeling densities required for high resolution of densely crowded structures. Here we combined lattice light-sheet microscopy with newly developed, freely diffusing, cell-permeable chemical probes with targeted affinity for DNA, intracellular membranes or the plasma membrane. We used this combination to perform high-localization precision, ultrahigh-labeling density, multicolor localization microscopy in samples up to 20 μm thick, including dividing cells and the neuromast organ of a zebrafish embryo. We also demonstrate super-resolution correlative imaging with protein-specific photoactivable fluorophores, providing a mutually compatible, single-platform alternative to correlative light-electron microscopy over large volumes.

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    11/05/15 | Histone H3 threonine phosphorylation regulates asymmetric histone inheritance in the Drosophila male germline.
    Xie J, Wooten M, Tran V, Chen B, Pozmanter C, Simbolon C, Betzig E, Chen X
    Cell. 2015 Nov 5;163(4):920-33. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.10.002

    A long-standing question concerns how stem cells maintain their identity through multiple divisions. Previously, we reported that pre-existing and newly synthesized histone H3 are asymmetrically distributed during Drosophila male germline stem cell (GSC) asymmetric division. Here, we show that phosphorylation at threonine 3 of H3 (H3T3P) distinguishes pre-existing versus newly synthesized H3. Converting T3 to the unphosphorylatable residue alanine (H3T3A) or to the phosphomimetic aspartate (H3T3D) disrupts asymmetric H3 inheritance. Expression of H3T3A or H3T3D specifically in early-stage germline also leads to cellular defects, including GSC loss and germline tumors. Finally, compromising the activity of the H3T3 kinase Haspin enhances the H3T3A but suppresses the H3T3D phenotypes. These studies demonstrate that H3T3P distinguishes sister chromatids enriched with distinct pools of H3 in order to coordinate asymmetric segregation of "old" H3 into GSCs and that tight regulation of H3T3 phosphorylation is required for male germline activity.

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    11/01/15 | Vinculin is required for cell polarization, migration, and extracellular matrix remodeling in 3D collagen.
    Thievessen I, Fakhri N, Steinwachs J, Kraus V, McIsaac RS, Gao L, Chen B, Baird MA, Davidson MW, Betzig E, Oldenbourg R, Waterman CM, Fabry B
    FASEB Journal. 2015 Nov;29(11):4555-67. doi: 10.1096/fj.14-268235

    Vinculin is filamentous (F)-actin-binding protein enriched in integrin-based adhesions to the extracellular matrix (ECM). Whereas studies in 2-dimensional (2D) tissue culture models have suggested that vinculin negatively regulates cell migration by promoting cytoskeleton-ECM coupling to strengthen and stabilize adhesions, its role in regulating cell migration in more physiologic, 3-dimensional (3D) environments is unclear. To address the role of vinculin in 3D cell migration, we analyzed the morphodynamics, migration, and ECM remodeling of primary murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) with cre/loxP-mediated vinculin gene disruption in 3D collagen I cultures. We found that vinculin promoted 3D cell migration by increasing directional persistence. Vinculin was necessary for persistent cell protrusion, cell elongation, and stable cell orientation in 3D collagen, but was dispensable for lamellipodia formation, suggesting that vinculin-mediated cell adhesion to the ECM is needed to convert actin-based cell protrusion into persistent cell shape change and migration. Consistent with this finding, vinculin was necessary for efficient traction force generation in 3D collagen without affecting myosin II activity and promoted 3D collagen fiber alignment and macroscopical gel contraction. Our results suggest that vinculin promotes directionally persistent cell migration and tension-dependent ECM remodeling in complex 3D environments by increasing cell-ECM adhesion and traction force generation.-Thievessen, I., Fakhri, N., Steinwachs, J., Kraus, V., McIsaac, R. S., Gao, L., Chen, B.-C., Baird, M. A., Davidson, M. W., Betzig, E., Oldenbourg, R., Waterman, C., M., Fabry, B. Vinculin is required for cell polarization, migration, and extracellular matrix remodeling in 3D collagen.

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    10/01/15 | Three-dimensional tracking of plus-tips by lattice light-sheet microscopy permits the quantification of microtubule growth trajectories within the mitotic apparatus.
    Yamashita N, Morita M, Legant WR, Chen B, Betzig E, Yokota H, Mimori-Kiyosue Y
    Journal of Biomedical Optics. 2015 Oct 1;20(10):101206. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.20.10.101206