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Proceedings Paper

Optical control of neuronal growth
Author(s): Daniel Koch; Timo Betz; Allen Ehrlicher; Michael Gogler; Bjorn Stuhrmann; Josef Kas
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Paper Abstract

Understanding and controlling neuronal growth are basic objectives in neuroscience, biology, biophysics, and biomedicine, and are vital for the formation of neural circuits in vitro, as well as for nerve regeneration in vivo. All molecular stimuli for neuronal growth eventually address the polymeric cytoskeleton, which advances a neurite's leading edge also known as the growth cone. We have shown that optical forces of a highly focused infrared laser beam influence the motility of a growth cone by biasing the polymerization-driven intracellular machinery. In actively extending growth cones, a laser spot placed at specific areas of the neurite's leading edge affects the growth speed, the direction taken by a growth cone, and the splitting of a growth cone. This novel optical tool manipulates a natural biological process, the cytoskeleton driven morphological changes in growth cones, with potential applications in the formation of neuronal networks and in understanding growth cone motility. The current apparatus combines optical tweezers, phase contrast and fluorescence imaging, and real-time shape detection. Automated and dynamically readjusted irradiation of the growth cone is used to examine and to influence structural and morphological changes of neuronal growth.

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 October 2004
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 5514, Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation, (18 October 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.559672
Show Author Affiliations
Daniel Koch, Univ. Leipzig (Germany)
Timo Betz, Univ. Leipzig (Germany)
Allen Ehrlicher, Univ. Leipzig (Germany)
Michael Gogler, Univ. Leipzig (Germany)
Bjorn Stuhrmann, Univ. Leipzig (Germany)
Josef Kas, Univ. Leipzig (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5514:
Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation
Kishan Dholakia; Gabriel C. Spalding, Editor(s)

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