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Proceedings Paper

High-speed fluorescence microscopy of cell signaling
Author(s): Howard R. Petty
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Paper Abstract

A high-speed fluorescence microscope was constructed to observe the spatio-temporal dynamics of chemical signals within living cells. Typically, the CCD is gated for <1 microsec. with an ~2 msec. duty cycle to create “stop-action” movies of cells. The fluorescence of endogenous substances and/or exogenous labels was observed. We found that chemical signals travel as waves within cells. These include waves of Ca2+, pH, membrane depolarization and metabolites, which were missed in previous studies because they traverse a cell (d~10 mm) in a time that is much shorter than a typical camera’s shutter speed. Not only are these dynamic chemical structures present in cells, but the initiation points, speeds, locations, and shapes vary. These waves underlie cellular processes such as chemotactic orientation, phagolysosome fusion, phagocytosis, transmembrane signaling, adherence, oxidant production, cell migration, and tumor cell killing. Studies of cell-cell interactions show that immune cells are capable of synchronizing their signaling apparatuses, thus cooperating to mediate target cell destruction. By combining high-speed imaging with conventional biological methods, we have identified novel sites for drug discovery based upon perturbations of chemical waves within cells. We propose that chemical waves in cells travel well-defined pathways at specific times to mediate information transduction, processing and distribution-much like a computer chip.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 March 2005
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 5580, 26th International Congress on High-Speed Photography and Photonics, (17 March 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.598020
Show Author Affiliations
Howard R. Petty, Univ. of Michigan (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5580:
26th International Congress on High-Speed Photography and Photonics
Dennis L. Paisley; Stuart Kleinfelder; Donald R. Snyder; Brian J. Thompson, Editor(s)

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