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Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol. 2011;124:1-19. doi: 10.1007/10_2010_81.

Light microscopic analysis of mitochondrial heterogeneity in cell populations and within single cells.

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Mitochondrial Structure and Dynamics Group, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Am Fassberg 11, 37077, Goettingen, Germany,


Heterogeneity in the shapes of individual multicellular organisms is a daily experience. Likewise, even a quick glance through the ocular of a light microscope reveals the morphological heterogeneities in genetically identical cultured cells, whereas heterogeneities on the level of the organelles are much less obvious. This short review focuses on intracellular heterogeneities at the example of the mitochondria and their analysis by fluorescence microscopy. The overall mitochondrial shape as well as mitochondrial dynamics can be studied by classical (fluorescence) light microscopy. However, with an organelle diameter generally close to the resolution limit of light, the heterogeneities within mitochondria cannot be resolved with conventional light microscopy. Therefore, we briefly discuss here the potential of subdiffraction light microscopy (nanoscopy) to study inner-mitochondrial heterogeneities.

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