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Traffic. 2005 Dec;6(12):1093-102.

In vivo selective cytoskeleton dynamics quantification in interphase cells induced by pulsed ultraviolet laser nanosurgery.

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Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Meyerhofstrasse 1, D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


We report on the manipulation of intracellular filaments using a nanosurgery system based on a subnanosecond pulsed UV laser optimized for the localized severing of biological polymers. By inducing artificial catastrophe of selected microtubules (MTs), we perform shrinkage-rate measurements in interphase Ptk-2 cells throughout the entire cell. We quantify the impact of two labeling methods and three fluorescent markers, showing a 25% faster depolymerization with Alexa-488 tubulin compared with Rhodamine and yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) tubulins and a 20% higher variability induced by microinjection compared with stable transfection. Using EB3-GFP as a tip marker, we establish a new protocol to measure shrinkage rate, growth rate and rescue frequency simultaneously with high temporal and spatial specificity in live cells. As our analysis shows, laser-induced MT dynamics are physiologically relevant. The high statistical efficiency that the method offers in terms of numbers of measured events and therefore reduced standard deviations represents an important quantitative improvement in the measurement of dynamic instability parameters in vivo. We extend the application of the method by demonstrating induced dynamic behavior of actin-stress fibers after severing. This new method enables the quantitative investigation of cytoskeleton dynamics in a local confinement.

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