Label-Free Interference Imaging of Intracellular Trafficking

Jin Sung Park, Il Buem Lee, Seok Cheol Hong, Minhaeng Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Conspectus Intracellular cargo trafficking is a highly regulated process responsible for transporting vital cellular components to their designated destinations. This intricate journey has been a central focus of cellular biology for many years. Early investigations leaned heavily on biochemical and genetic approaches, offering valuable insight into molecular mechanisms of cellular trafficking. However, while informative, these methods lack the capacity to capture the dynamic nature of intracellular trafficking. The advent of fluorescent protein tagging techniques transformed our ability to monitor the complete lifecycle of intracellular cargos, advancing our understanding. Yet, a central question remains: How do these cargos manage to navigate through traffic challenges, such as congestion, within the crowded cellular environment? Fluorescence-based imaging, though valuable, has inherent limitations when it comes to addressing the aforementioned question. It is prone to photobleaching, making long-term live-cell imaging challenging. Furthermore, they render unlabeled cellular constituents invisible, thereby missing critical environmental information. Notably, the unlabeled majority likely exerts a significant influence on the observed behavior of labeled molecules. These considerations underscore the necessity of developing complementary label-free imaging methods to overcome the limitations of fluorescence imaging or to integrate them synergistically. In this Account, we outline how label-free interference-based imaging has the potential to revolutionize the study of intracellular traffic by offering unprecedented levels of detail. We begin with a brief introduction to our previous findings in live-cell research enabled by interferometric scattering (iSCAT) microscopy, showcasing its aptitude and adeptness in elucidating intricate nanoscale intracellular structures. As we delved deeper into our exploration, we succeeded in the label-free visualization of the entire lifespan of nanoscale protein complexes known as nascent adhesions (NAs) and the dynamic events associated with adhesions within living cells. Our continuous efforts have led to the development of Dynamic Scattering-particle Localization Interference Microscopy (DySLIM), a generalized concept of cargo-localization iSCAT (CL-iSCAT). This label-free, high-speed imaging method, armed with iSCAT detection sensitivity, empowers us to capture quantitative and biophysical insights into cargo transport, providing a realistic view of the intricate nanoscale logistics occurring within living cells. Our in vivo studies demonstrate that intracellular cargos regularly contend with substantial traffic within the crowded cellular environment. Simultaneously, they employ inherent strategies for efficient cargo transport, such as collective migration and hitchhiking, to enhance overall transport rates─intriguingly paralleling the principle and practice of urban traffic management. We also highlight the synergistic benefits of combining DySLIM with chemical-selective fluorescent methods. This Account concludes with a “Conclusions and Outlook” section, outlining promising directions for future research and developments, with a particular emphasis on the functional application of iSCAT live-cell imaging. We aim to inspire further investigation into the efficient transport strategies employed by cells to surmount transportation challenges, shedding light on their significance in cellular phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1565-1576
Number of pages12
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Volume57
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Jun 4

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 American Chemical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry

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