Indexed on: 09 Dec '16Published on: 09 Dec '16Published in: Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Fluorescence microscopy enables direct visualization of specific biomolecules within cells. However, for conventional fluorescence microscopy, the spatial resolution is restricted by diffraction to ~ 200 nm within the image plane and > 500 nm along the optical axis. As a result, fluorescence microscopy has long been severely limited in the observation of ultrastructural features within cells. The recent development of super resolution microscopy methods has overcome this limitation. In particular, the advent of photoswitchable fluorophores enables localization-based super resolution microscopy, which provides resolving power approaching the molecular-length scale. Here, we describe the application of a three-dimensional super resolution microscopy method based on single-molecule localization microscopy and multiphase interferometry, called interferometric PhotoActivated Localization Microscopy (iPALM). This method provides nearly isotropic resolution on the order of 20 nm in all three dimensions. Protocols for visualizing the filamentous actin cytoskeleton, including specimen preparation and operation of the iPALM instrument, are described here. These protocols are also readily adaptable and instructive for the study of other ultrastructural features in cells.