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8 Janelia Publications

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    12/23/08 | Multilayer three-dimensional super resolution imaging of thick biological samples.
    Vaziri A, Tang J, Shroff H, Shank CV
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2008 Dec 23;105(51):20221-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0810636105

    Recent advances in optical microscopy have enabled biological imaging beyond the diffraction limit at nanometer resolution. A general feature of most of the techniques based on photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) or stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) has been the use of thin biological samples in combination with total internal reflection, thus limiting the imaging depth to a fraction of an optical wavelength. However, to study whole cells or organelles that are typically up to 15 microm deep into the cell, the extension of these methods to a three-dimensional (3D) super resolution technique is required. Here, we report an advance in optical microscopy that enables imaging of protein distributions in cells with a lateral localization precision better than 50 nm at multiple imaging planes deep in biological samples. The approach is based on combining the lateral super resolution provided by PALM with two-photon temporal focusing that provides optical sectioning. We have generated super-resolution images over an axial range of approximately 10 microm in both mitochondrially labeled fixed cells, and in the membranes of living S2 Drosophila cells.

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    12/01/08 | Advances in the speed and resolution of light microscopy.
    Ji N, Shroff H, Zhong H, Betzig E
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2008 Dec;18(6):605-16. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.03.009

    Neurobiological processes occur on spatiotemporal scales spanning many orders of magnitude. Greater understanding of these processes therefore demands improvements in the tools used in their study. Here we review recent efforts to enhance the speed and resolution of one such tool, fluorescence microscopy, with an eye toward its application to neurobiological problems. On the speed front, improvements in beam scanning technology, signal generation rates, and photodamage mediation are bringing us closer to the goal of real-time functional imaging of extended neural networks. With regard to resolution, emerging methods of adaptive optics may lead to diffraction-limited imaging or much deeper imaging in optically inhomogeneous tissues, and super-resolution techniques may prove a powerful adjunct to electron microscopic methods for nanometric neural circuit reconstruction.

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    12/01/08 | Advances in the speed and resolution of light microscopy. (With commentary)
    Ji N, Shroff H, Zhong H, Betzig E
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2008 Dec;18(6):605-16. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.03.009

    Neurobiological processes occur on spatiotemporal scales spanning many orders of magnitude. Greater understanding of these processes therefore demands improvements in the tools used in their study. Here we review recent efforts to enhance the speed and resolution of one such tool, fluorescence microscopy, with an eye toward its application to neurobiological problems. On the speed front, improvements in beam scanning technology, signal generation rates, and photodamage mediation are bringing us closer to the goal of real-time functional imaging of extended neural networks. With regard to resolution, emerging methods of adaptive optics may lead to diffraction-limited imaging or much deeper imaging in optically inhomogeneous tissues, and super-resolution techniques may prove a powerful adjunct to electron microscopic methods for nanometric neural circuit reconstruction.

    Commentary: A brief review of recent trends in microscopy. The section “Caveats regarding the application of superresolution microscopy” was written in an effort to inject a dose of reality and caution into the unquestioning enthusiasm in the academic community for all things superresolution, covering the topics of labeling density and specificity, sample preparation artifacts, speed vs. resolution vs. photodamage, and the implications of signal-to-background for Nyquist vs. Rayleigh definitions of resolution.

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    12/01/08 | Photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) of adhesion complexes. (With commentary)
    Shroff H, White H, Betzig E
    Current Protocols in Cell Biology. 2008 Dec;Chapter 4(Unit 4):21. doi: 10.1002/0471143030.cb0421s41

    Key to understanding a protein’s biological function is the accurate determination of its spatial distribution inside a cell. Although fluorescent protein markers allow the targeting of specific proteins with molecular precision, much of this information is lost when the resultant fusion proteins are imaged with conventional, diffraction-limited optics. In response, several imaging modalities that are capable of resolution below the diffraction limit (approximately 200 nm) have emerged. Here, both single- and dual-color superresolution imaging of biological structures using photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) are described. The examples discussed focus on adhesion complexes: dense, protein-filled assemblies that form at the interface between cells and their substrata. A particular emphasis is placed on the instrumentation and photoactivatable fluorescent protein (PA-FP) tags necessary to achieve PALM images at approximately 20 nm resolution in 5 to 30 min in fixed cells.

    Commentary: A paper spearheaded by Hari which gives a thorough description of the methods and hardware needed to successfully practice PALM, including cover slip preparation, cell transfection and fixation, drift correction with fiducials, characterization of on/off contrast ratios for different photoactivted fluorescent proteins, identifying PALM-suitable cells, and mechanical and optical components of a PALM system.

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    05/01/08 | Live-cell photoactivated localization microscopy of nanoscale adhesion dynamics.
    Shroff H, Galbraith CG, Galbraith JA, Betzig E
    Nature Methods. 2008 May;5(5):417-23. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1202

    We demonstrate live-cell super-resolution imaging using photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM). The use of photon-tolerant cell lines in combination with the high resolution and molecular sensitivity of PALM permitted us to investigate the nanoscale dynamics within individual adhesion complexes (ACs) in living cells under physiological conditions for as long as 25 min, with half of the time spent collecting the PALM images at spatial resolutions down to approximately 60 nm and frame rates as short as 25 s. We visualized the formation of ACs and measured the fractional gain and loss of individual paxillin molecules as each AC evolved. By allowing observation of a wide variety of nanoscale dynamics, live-cell PALM provides insights into molecular assembly during the initiation, maturation and dissolution of cellular processes.

    Commentary: The first example of true live cell and time lapse imaging by localization microscopy (as opposed to particle tracking), this paper uses the Nyquist criterion to establish a necessary condition for true spatial resolution based on the density of localized molecules – a condition often unmet in claims elsewhere in the superresolution literature.
    By any method, higher spatiotemporal resolution requires increasing light exposure at the specimen, making noninvasive imaging increasingly difficult. Here, simultaneous differential interference contrast imaging is used to establish that cells behave physiologically before, during, and after PALM imaging. Similar controls are lacking from many supposed “live cell” superresolution demonstrations.

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    02/01/08 | High-density mapping of single-molecule trajectories with photoactivated localization microscopy. (With commentary)
    Manley S, Gillette JM, Patterson GH, Shroff H, Hess HF, Betzig E, Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Nature Methods. 2008 Feb;5(2):155-7. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1176

    We combined photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) with live-cell single-particle tracking to create a new method termed sptPALM. We created spatially resolved maps of single-molecule motions by imaging the membrane proteins Gag and VSVG, and obtained several orders of magnitude more trajectories per cell than traditional single-particle tracking enables. By probing distinct subsets of molecules, sptPALM can provide insight into the origins of spatial and temporal heterogeneities in membranes.

    Commentary: As a stepping stone to true live cell PALM (see above), our collaborator Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz suggested using the sparse photoactivation principle of PALM to track the nanoscale motion of thousands of individual molecules within a single living cell. Termed single particle tracking PALM (sptPALM), Jennifer’s postdocs Suliana Manley and Jen Gillette used the method in our PALM rig to create spatially resolved maps of diffusion rates in the plasma membrane of live cells. sptPALM is a powerful tool to study the active cytoskeletal or passive diffusional transport of individual molecules with far more measurements per cell than is possible without sparse photoactivation.

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    Ji LabMagee LabBetzig Lab
    02/01/08 | High-speed, low-photodamage nonlinear imaging using passive pulse splitters.
    Ji N, Magee JC, Betzig E
    Nature Methods. 2008 Feb;5(2):197-202. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1175

    Pulsed lasers are key elements in nonlinear bioimaging techniques such as two-photon fluorescence excitation (TPE) microscopy. Typically, however, only a percent or less of the laser power available can be delivered to the sample before photoinduced damage becomes excessive. Here we describe a passive pulse splitter that converts each laser pulse into a fixed number of sub-pulses of equal energy. We applied the splitter to TPE imaging of fixed mouse brain slices labeled with GFP and show that, in different power regimes, the splitter can be used either to increase the signal rate more than 100-fold or to reduce the rate of photobleaching by over fourfold. In living specimens, the gains were even greater: a ninefold reduction in photobleaching during in vivo imaging of Caenorhabditis elegans larvae, and a six- to 20-fold decrease in the rate of photodamage during calcium imaging of rat hippocampal brain slices.

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    Ji LabMagee LabBetzig Lab
    02/01/08 | High-speed, low-photodamage nonlinear imaging using passive pulse splitters. (With commentary)
    Ji N, Magee JC, Betzig E
    Nature Methods. 2008 Feb;5(2):197-202. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1175

    Pulsed lasers are key elements in nonlinear bioimaging techniques such as two-photon fluorescence excitation (TPE) microscopy. Typically, however, only a percent or less of the laser power available can be delivered to the sample before photoinduced damage becomes excessive. Here we describe a passive pulse splitter that converts each laser pulse into a fixed number of sub-pulses of equal energy. We applied the splitter to TPE imaging of fixed mouse brain slices labeled with GFP and show that, in different power regimes, the splitter can be used either to increase the signal rate more than 100-fold or to reduce the rate of photobleaching by over fourfold. In living specimens, the gains were even greater: a ninefold reduction in photobleaching during in vivo imaging of Caenorhabditis elegans larvae, and a six- to 20-fold decrease in the rate of photodamage during calcium imaging of rat hippocampal brain slices.

    Commentary: Na Ji came to me early in her postdoc with an idea to reduce photodamage in nonlinear microscopy by splitting the pulses from an ultrafast laser into multiple subpulses of reduced energy. In six weeks, we constructed a prototype pulse splitter and obtained initial results confirming the validity of her vision. Further experiments with Jeff Magee demonstrated that the splitter could be used to increase imaging speed or reduce photodamage in two photon microscopy by one to two orders of magnitude. This project is a great example of how quickly one can react and exploit new ideas in the Janelia environment.

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