Observing the cell in its native state: Imaging subcellular dynamics in multicellular organisms

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Abstract

True physiological imaging of subcellular dynamics requires studying cells within their parent organisms, where all the environmental cues that drive gene expression, and hence the phenotypes that we actually observe, are present. A complete understanding also requires volumetric imaging of the cell and its surroundings at high spatiotemporal resolution, without inducing undue stress on either. We combined lattice light-sheet microscopy with adaptive optics to achieve, across large multicellular volumes, noninvasive aberration-free imaging of subcellular processes, including endocytosis, organelle remodeling during mitosis, and the migration of axons, immune cells, and metastatic cancer cells in vivo. The technology reveals the phenotypic diversity within cells across different organisms and developmental stages and may offer insights into how cells harness their intrinsic variability to adapt to different physiological environments.

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