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J Vis Exp. 2011 Jul 28;(53). pii: 3123. doi: 10.3791/3123.

Use of an optical trap for study of host-pathogen interactions for dynamic live cell imaging.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, USA.

Abstract

Dynamic live cell imaging allows direct visualization of real-time interactions between cells of the immune system(1, 2); however, the lack of spatial and temporal control between the phagocytic cell and microbe has rendered focused observations into the initial interactions of host response to pathogens difficult. Historically, intercellular contact events such as phagocytosis(3) have been imaged by mixing two cell types, and then continuously scanning the field-of-view to find serendipitous intercellular contacts at the appropriate stage of interaction. The stochastic nature of these events renders this process tedious, and it is difficult to observe early or fleeting events in cell-cell contact by this approach. This method requires finding cell pairs that are on the verge of contact, and observing them until they consummate their contact, or do not. To address these limitations, we use optical trapping as a non-invasive, non-destructive, but fast and effective method to position cells in culture. Optical traps, or optical tweezers, are increasingly utilized in biological research to capture and physically manipulate cells and other micron-sized particles in three dimensions(4). Radiation pressure was first observed and applied to optical tweezer systems in 1970(5, 6), and was first used to control biological specimens in 1987(7). Since then, optical tweezers have matured into a technology to probe a variety of biological phenomena(8-13). We describe a method(14) that advances live cell imaging by integrating an optical trap with spinning disk confocal microscopy with temperature and humidity control to provide exquisite spatial and temporal control of pathogenic organisms in a physiological environment to facilitate interactions with host cells, as determined by the operator. Live, pathogenic organisms like Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus, which can cause potentially lethal, invasive infections in immunocompromised individuals(15, 16) (e.g. AIDS, chemotherapy, and organ transplantation patients), were optically trapped using non-destructive laser intensities and moved adjacent to macrophages, which can phagocytose the pathogen. High resolution, transmitted light and fluorescence-based movies established the ability to observe early events of phagocytosis in living cells. To demonstrate the broad applicability in immunology, primary T-cells were also trapped and manipulated to form synapses with anti-CD3 coated microspheres in vivo, and time-lapse imaging of synapse formation was also obtained. By providing a method to exert fine spatial control of live pathogens with respect to immune cells, cellular interactions can be captured by fluorescence microscopy with minimal perturbation to cells and can yield powerful insight into early responses of innate and adaptive immunity.

PMID:
21841755
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3197446
Free PMC Article
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