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Microsc Microanal. 2012 Aug;18(4):808-15.

Deconvolution of calcium fluorescent indicator signal from AFM cantilever reflection.

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  • 1Center for the Physics of Materials and the Department of Physics, McGill University, 3600 University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2T8, Canada.


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) can be combined with fluorescence microscopy to measure the changes in intracellular calcium levels (indicated by fluorescence of Ca²⁺ sensitive dye fluo-4) in response to mechanical stimulation performed by AFM. Mechanical stimulation using AFM is associated with cantilever movement, which may interfere with the fluorescence signal. The motion of the AFM cantilever with respect to the sample resulted in changes of the reflection of light back to the sample and a subsequent variation in the fluorescence intensity, which was not related to changes in intracellular Ca²⁺ levels. When global Ca²⁺ responses to a single stimulation were assessed, the interference of reflected light with the fluorescent signal was minimal. However, in experiments where local repetitive stimulations were performed, reflection artifacts, correlated with cantilever motion, represented a significant component of the fluorescent signal. We developed a protocol to correct the fluorescence traces for reflection artifacts, as well as photobleaching. An added benefit of our method is that the cantilever reflection in the fluorescence recordings can be used for precise temporal correlation of the AFM and fluorescence measurements.

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