Integrated Electron Microscopy: Super-Duper Resolution

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Abstract

Since its inception, electron microscopy (EM) has revealed that cellular membranes are organized into structurally distinct subdomains, created by localized protein and lipid assemblies to perform specific complex cellular functions. Caveolae are membrane subdomains that function as signaling platforms, endocytic carriers, sensors of membrane tension, and mechanical stress, as well as in lipid homeostasis. They were first discovered almost 60 years ago by pioneering electron microscopists. While new and exciting developments in SUPER-resolution fluorescent light microscopy facilitate studies of the spatial organization of fluorescently labeled protein components, these techniques cannot reveal the underlying cellular structures. Thus, equally exciting are developments in EM: genetically encoded probes for protein localization at sub-10 nm resolution, more powerful instruments that allow imaging of larger cell volumes, and computational methods for reconstructing three-dimensional images. Used in combination, as done by Ludwig<etal>et al</etal>. in the current issue of PLOS Biology, these tools reveal high-resolution insights into the composition and organization of the caveolae coat and the formation of these specialized structures. Together, these advances are contributing to a resurgence in EM.

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)

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