Synchrotron radiation based Fourier transform IR (SR-FTIR) spectromicroscopy allows the study of individual living cells with a high signal to noise ratio. Here we report the use of the SR-FTIR technique to investigate changes in IR spectral features from individual human lung fibroblast (IMR-90) cells in vitro at different points in their cell cycle. Clear changes are observed in the spectral regions corresponding to proteins, DNA, and RNA as a cell changes from the G(1)-phase to the S-phase and finally into mitosis. These spectral changes include markers for the changing secondary structure of proteins in the cell, as well as variations in DNA/RNA content and packing as the cell cycle progresses. We also observe spectral features that indicate that occasional cells are undergoing various steps in the process of cell death. The dying or dead cell has a shift in the protein amide I and II bands corresponding to changing protein morphologies, and a significant increase in the intensity of an ester carbonyl C===O peak at 1743 cm(-1) is observed. Biopolymers (Biospectroscopy) 57: 329-335, 2000
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