Thanks for visiting Imaging and Machine Vision Europe.

You're trying to access an editorial feature that is only available to logged in, registered users of Imaging and Machine Vision Europe. Registering is completely free, so why not sign up with us?

By registering, as well as being able to browse all content on the site without further interruption, you'll also have the option to receive our magazine (multiple times a year) and our email newsletters.

Researchers capture time-lapse imagery of cell signalling vesicle

Share this on social media:

US scientists have performed an advanced study of structures inside live cells using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRF), which could give insights into rare diseases.

The experiment, which was carried out by two postgraduates from Yale University, captured the first time-lapse pictures of the APPL1 endosome, a type of vesicle that carries signals inside a cell from its surface. The researchers used high-speed camera and software from Andor Technology to track the vesicle and found that APPL1 helps cells communicate with each other.

Previously, scientists had believed most intercellular communication occurred at a cell's surface. The new research shows signalling between cells is much more complex than originally thought.

Furthermore, it gives an insight into diseases associated with APPL1 like Dent disease, a rare kidney disease, and Lowe syndrome, a rare eye, kidney and brain condition. The APPL1 vesicle could also have a role in cancer and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

'TIRF is designed to image things close to the surface of the cell with unmatched definition and signal-to-noise,' said Dr Roberto Zoncu, one of the postgraduates who performed the experiment. 'But it wasn't thought to be ideal for endosomes.'

The researchers predicted that some vesicles would station close to the cell surface after they entered the cell, meaning they could be observed using TIRF. They captured time-lapse images of the fluorescent-labelled vesicles as they moved through the cell using a highly-sensitive Andor iXon 897 EMCCD camera.

'We have proved we can image things moving from the surface of the cell inside using TIRF,' said Dr Zoncu. 'And that's an advantage because it's the most sensitive technique of all.'

The team also attributes their success to the Andor camera and software. 'Because the vesicles are very small, the light sensitivity of the camera has to be as high as possible. This camera is the most sensitive available in our experience,' commented Dr Zoncu.

The fluorescent dots indicating each vesicle were tracked from image to image using Andor's iQ image analysis software. According to Dr Zoncu: 'The software comes with the camera, but it has many advantages. It is very user-friendly during image acquisition and it's flexible. It also allows us to do some image analysis, which is very important in our work.'

The time-lapse results suggest APPL1 transforms into an early endosome – a compartment that acts like a sorting office, dispatching signals to different parts of the cell. The team also discovered that a phospholipid  (fat) molecule called phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate is the molecular switch that turns the APPL1 vesicle into an endosome.

Dr Zoncu has high hopes for future research on APPL1. 'Thanks to this technology, we can focus further studies on diseases where this endosome is likely to be involved,' he said.

Recent News

26 September 2019

Rugby fans are now able to watch highlights from the Rugby World Cup, currently taking place in Japan, from angles and viewpoints not possible with conventional cameras, thanks to a multi-camera system from Canon

13 September 2019

A hyperspectral imaging system built by US research centre Battelle, using Headwall sensors, has been chosen as a finalist for the Department of Homeland Security’s Opioid Detection Challenge

23 July 2019

On the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing on 20 July 1969, Zeiss has described how, in less than nine months, it built the camera lens used to capture the iconic images during the Apollo 11 mission

18 July 2019

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden are using high-speed cameras to study how insects use visual information to control flight