Correlative light-electron microscopy of cells in a natural environment of aqueous liquid facilitates high-throughput observation of protein complex formation. ASEM allows the inverted SEM to observe the wet sample from below, while an optical microscope observes it from above quasi-simultaneously. The disposable ASEM dish with a silicon nitride (SiN) film window can be coated variously to realize the primary-culture of substrate-sensitive cells in a few milliliters of culture medium in a stable incubator environment. Neuron differentiation, neural networking, proplatelet-formation and phagocytosis were captured by optical or fluorescence microscopy, and imaged at high resolution by gold-labeled immuno-ASEM with/without metal staining. Fas expression on the cell surface was visualized, correlated to the spatial distribution of F-actin. Axonal partitioning was studied using primary-culture neurons, and presynaptic induction by GluRδ2-N-terminus-linked fluorescent magnetic beads was correlated to the presynaptic-marker Bassoon. Further, megakaryocytes secreting proplatelets were captured, and P-selectins with adherence activity were localized to some of the granules present by immuno-ASEM. The phagocytosis of lactic acid bacteria by dendritic cells was also imaged. Based on these studies, ASEM correlative microscopy promises to allow the study of various mesoscopic-scale dynamics in the near future.
- Environmental cell