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Eur J Cell Biol. 1989 Aug;49(2):281-94.

The structure of organelles of the endocytic pathway in hydrated cryosections of cultured cells.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Federal Republic of Germany.


The structure of cellular organelles, in particular those involved in endocytosis, was studied by electron microscopy with hydrated cryosections. In this technique no chemical treatment is used, and the native structure of organelles can be observed in sections viewed at temperatures below -140 degrees C, using a cold stage accessory on the electron microscope. The compartments of the endocytic pathway were prelabeled with gold markers in the living cell, facilitating the identification of different structures in the cryosections. The structure of most identifiable cellular organelles, including those involved in endocytosis, appeared very similar in the hydrated cryosections to that seen after conventional plastic and cryosections of chemically fixed cells. In particular, the internal membranes of the structure we refer to as the prelysosomal compartment (Griffiths et al., Cell 52, 329-341 (1988] could be clearly visualized in these sections indicating that the organization of these membranes is not a consequence of the chemical fixation process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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