Kenneth Fahy, Sergey Kapishnikov, Martina Donnellan, Tony McEnroe, Fergal O’Reilly, William Fyans, Paul Sheridan
Cryo-soft X-ray tomography is the unique technology that can image whole intact cells in 3D under normal and pathological conditions without labelling or fixation, at high throughput and spatial resolution. The sample preparation is relatively straightforward; requiring just fast freezing of the specimen before transfer to the microscope for imaging. It is also possible to image chemically fixed samples where necessary. The technique can be correlated with cryo fluorescence microscopy to localize fluorescent proteins to organelles within the whole cell volume. Cryo-correlated light and soft X-ray tomography is particularly useful for the study of gross morphological changes brought about by disease or drugs. For example, viral fluorescent tags can be co-localized to sites of viral replication in the soft X-ray volume. In general this approach is extremely useful in the study of complex 3D organelle structure, nanoparticle uptake or in the detection of rare events in the context of whole cell structure. The main challenge of soft X-ray tomography is that the soft X-ray illumination required for imaging has heretofore only been available at a small number of synchrotron labs worldwide. Recently, a compact device with a footprint small enough to fit in a standard laboratory setting has been deployed (“the SXT-100”) and is routinely imaging cryo prepared samples addressing a variety of disease and drug research applications. The SXT-100 facilitates greater access to this powerful technique and greatly increases the scope and throughput of potential research projects. Furthermore, the availability of cryo-soft X-ray tomography in the laboratory will accelerate the development of novel correlative and multimodal workflows by integration with light and electron microscope based approaches. It also allows for co-location of this powerful imaging modality at BSL3 labs or other facilities where safety or intellectual property considerations are paramount. Here we describe the compact SXT-100 microscope along with its novel integrated cryo-fluorescence imaging capability.
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