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Electron Microscopy Core FacilityPublications

Three-dimensional reconstruction of bacteria with a complex endomembrane system.
Santarella-Mellwig, R., Pruggnaller, S., Roos, N., Mattaj, I.W. & Devos, D.P.
PLoS Biol. 2013;11(5):e1001565. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001565. Epub 2013 May21.
The division of cellular space into functionally distinct membrane-defined compartments has been one of the major transitions in the history of life. Such compartmentalization has been claimed to occur in members of the Planctomycetes, Verrucomicrobiae, and Chlamydiae bacterial superphylum. Here we have investigated the three-dimensional organization of the complex endomembrane system in the planctomycete bacteria Gemmata obscuriglobus. We reveal that the G. obscuriglobus cells are neither compartmentalized nor nucleated as none of the spaces created by the membrane invaginations are closed; instead, they are all interconnected. Thus, the membrane organization of G. obscuriglobus, and most likely all PVC members, is not different from, but an extension of, the "classical" Gram-negative bacterial membrane system. Our results have implications for our definition and understanding of bacterial cell organization, the genesis of complex structure, and the origin of the eukaryotic endomembrane system.
Europe PMC

Three-dimensional architecture and biogenesis of membrane structures associated with hepatitis C virus replication.
Romero-Brey, I., Merz, A., Chiramel, A., Lee, J.Y., Chlanda, P., Haselman, U., Santarella-Mellwig, R., Habermann, A., Hoppe, S., Kallis, S., Walther, P., Antony, C., Krijnse-Locker, J. & Bartenschlager, R.
PLoS Pathog. 2012;8(12):e1003056. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003056. Epub 2012Dec 6.
All positive strand RNA viruses are known to replicate their genomes in close association with intracellular membranes. In case of the hepatitis C virus (HCV), a member of the family Flaviviridae, infected cells contain accumulations of vesicles forming a membranous web (MW) that is thought to be the site of viral RNA replication. However, little is known about the biogenesis and three-dimensional structure of the MW. In this study we used a combination of immunofluorescence- and electron microscopy (EM)-based methods to analyze the membranous structures induced by HCV in infected cells. We found that the MW is derived primarily from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and contains markers of rough ER as well as markers of early and late endosomes, COP vesicles, mitochondria and lipid droplets (LDs). The main constituents of the MW are single and double membrane vesicles (DMVs). The latter predominate and the kinetic of their appearance correlates with kinetics of viral RNA replication. DMVs are induced primarily by NS5A whereas NS4B induces single membrane vesicles arguing that MW formation requires the concerted action of several HCV replicase proteins. Three-dimensional reconstructions identify DMVs as protrusions from the ER membrane into the cytosol, frequently connected to the ER membrane via a neck-like structure. In addition, late in infection multi-membrane vesicles become evident, presumably as a result of a stress-induced reaction. Thus, the morphology of the membranous rearrangements induced in HCV-infected cells resemble those of the unrelated picorna-, corona- and arteriviruses, but are clearly distinct from those of the closely related flaviviruses. These results reveal unexpected similarities between HCV and distantly related positive-strand RNA viruses presumably reflecting similarities in cellular pathways exploited by these viruses to establish their membranous replication factories.
Europe PMC

Electron tomography of the microtubule cytoskeleton in multinucleated hyphae of Ashbya gossypii.
Gibeaux, R., Lang, C., Politi, A.Z., Jaspersen, S.L., Philippsen, P. & Antony, C.
J Cell Sci. 2012 Dec 1;125(Pt 23):5830-9. doi: 10.1242/jcs.111005. Epub 2012 Sep26.
We report the mechanistic basis guiding the migration pattern of multiple nuclei in hyphae of Ashbya gossypii. Using electron tomography, we reconstructed the cytoplasmic microtubule (cMT) cytoskeleton in three tip regions with a total of 13 nuclei and also the spindle microtubules of four mitotic nuclei. Each spindle pole body (SPB) nucleates three cMTs and most cMTs above a certain length grow according to their plus-end structure. Long cMTs closely align for several microns along the cortex, presumably marking regions where dynein generates pulling forces on nuclei. Close proximity between cMTs emanating from adjacent nuclei was not observed. The majority of nuclei carry duplicated side-by-side SPBs, which together emanate an average of six cMTs, in most cases in opposite orientation with respect to the hyphal growth axis. Such cMT arrays explain why many nuclei undergo short-range back and forth movements. Only occasionally do all six cMTs orient in one direction, a precondition for long-range nuclear bypassing. Following mitosis, daughter nuclei carry a single SPB with three cMTs. The increased probability that all three cMTs orient in one direction explains the high rate of nuclear bypassing observed in these nuclei. The A. gossypii mitotic spindle was found to be structurally similar to that of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in terms of nuclear microtubule (nMT) number, length distribution and three-dimensional organization even though the two organisms differ significantly in chromosome number. Our results suggest that two nMTs attach to each kinetochore in A. gossypii and not only one nMT like in S. cerevisiae.
Europe PMC

Correlated fluorescence and 3D electron microscopy with high sensitivity and spatial precision.
Kukulski, W., Schorb, M., Welsch, S., Picco, A., Kaksonen, M. & Briggs, J.A.
J Cell Biol. 2011 Jan 10;192(1):111-9. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201009037. Epub 2011 Jan3.
Correlative electron and fluorescence microscopy has the potential to elucidate the ultrastructural details of dynamic and rare cellular events, but has been limited by low precision and sensitivity. Here we present a method for direct mapping of signals originating from approximately 20 fluorescent protein molecules to 3D electron tomograms with a precision of less than 100 nm. We demonstrate that this method can be used to identify individual HIV particles bound to mammalian cell surfaces. We also apply the method to image microtubule end structures bound to mal3p in fission yeast, and demonstrate that growing microtubule plus-ends are flared in vivo. We localize Rvs167 to endocytic sites in budding yeast, and show that scission takes place halfway through a 10-s time period during which amphiphysins are bound to the vesicle neck. This new technique opens the door for direct correlation of fluorescence and electron microscopy to visualize cellular processes at the ultrastructural scale.
Europe PMC