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Development of a microscope camera that captures 30,000 frames per second by Kyoto University's iCeMS — Clarifying the behavior of molecules in cell membranes


A research group led by Associate Professor Takahiro K. Fujiwara of the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Science (iCeMS) at Kyoto University, Professor Akihiro Kusumi of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) (Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University), and Shinji Takeuchi at PHOTRON LIMITED has developed a microscope camera capable of capturing images at a speed of 30,000 frames per second, with the sensitivity of a single fluorescent molecule. This achievement was published in The Journal of Cell Biology.

(Left) movement of a phospholipid, which make up the cell membrane, over one minute at 10,000 frames per second.
(Right) A basic model of the regulation of plasma membrane electron motility.
Provided by Kyoto University (©2023 Journal of Cell Biology)

Molecules within cells are believed to move rapidly, gather, and disperse. However, it is challenging to observe their actual movement. In response to this challenge, the research group has developed a new ultrafast and super-highly sensitive camera that enables the observation of molecular movements within cells for 10 years.

When the molecules of the cell membrane were captured with this camera, it was discovered that the membrane molecules were actively moving within specific regions and occasionally diffusing beyond boundaries. It became evident that the cell membrane is not a simple liquid, but rather is fully compartmentalized by an actin-based membrane-skeleton mesh (fence).

Although it previously took 5 minutes to capture a single image using super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, the newly developed camera has reduced the imaging time to approximately 10 seconds. For the first time, it became possible to visualize the internal structures of living cells with high precision by using super-resolution technology.

The cell membrane has a structure that serves as a cell's scaffold (focal adhesion) and is involved in various processes, such as cancer cell metastasis. Utilizing this camera, the researchers have also been able to understand the nature of temporal changes in super-resolution images and the collective movements of molecules within the cell membrane.

Fujiwara stated, "This camera has already been deployed at Kyoto University, OIST, Gifu University, as well as in Singapore and Bangalore, India. We hope that many researchers will be able to use it."

Journal Information
Publication: The Journal of Cell Biology

  1. (1) Title: Development of ultrafast camera-based single fluorescent-molecule imaging for cell biology
    DOI: 10.1083/jcb.202110160
  2. (2) Title: Ultrafast single-molecule imaging reveals focal adhesion nano-architecture and molecular dynamics
    DOI: 10.1083/jcb.202110162

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd. ( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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