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High-resolution 3-D reconstruction of a fission yeast cell

Mar 2007
Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, and at the University of Colorado at Boulder have created a 3-D visualization of a complete fission yeast cell. It has a resolution high enough to resolve the cytoskeleton’s precise architecture.

ASWEcell.jpgTo make the 3-D reconstruction, they took electron tomography images of sequential sections of a yeast cell from many angles and combined them into the final image.

From the image, the researchers could see details about microtubules. For instance, when the cell is not dividing, a microtubule bundle is made of four to five individual filaments physically connected by small bridges that are likely formed by proteins. They also observed that each end of the microtubules grows and shrinks at different rates, and they learned that the cytoskeleton determines the mitochondria’s correct positions.

The image, which was published in the March 6 issue of Developmental Cell, could be used by biologists as a reference map to study other cellular structures and processes.

The reconstruction (see figure) shows the plasma membrane and light vacuoles in green; the nucleus, dark vacuoles and dark vesicles in gold; mitochondria and large dark vesicles in blue; and the light vesicles in pink.

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