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Methods Mol Biol. 2011;748:169-82. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-139-0_12.

Probing the plasma membrane structure of immune cells through the analysis of membrane sheets by electron microscopy.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.


This chapter describes a method to generate plasma membrane sheets that are large enough to visualize the membrane architecture and perform quantitative analyses of protein distributions. This procedure places the sheets on electron microscopy grids, parallel to the imaging plane of the microscope, where they can be characterized by transmission electron microscopy. The basic principle of the technique is that cells are broken open ("ripped") through mechanical forces applied by the separation of two opposing surfaces sandwiching the cell, with one of the surfaces coated onto an EM grid. The exposed inner membrane surfaces can then be visualized with electron dense stains and specific proteins can be detected with gold conjugated probes.

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