Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy in cell biology

Traffic. 2001 Nov;2(11):764-74. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0854.2001.21104.x.


Key events in cellular trafficking occur at the cell surface, and it is desirable to visualize these events without interference from other regions deeper within. This review describes a microscopy technique based on total internal reflection fluorescence which is well suited for optical sectioning at cell-substrate regions with an unusually thin region of fluorescence excitation. The technique has many other applications as well, most notably for studying biochemical kinetics and single biomolecule dynamics at surfaces. A brief summary of these applications is provided, followed by presentations of the physical basis for the technique and the various ways to implement total internal reflection fluorescence in a standard fluorescence microscope.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytoplasmic Granules
  • Kinetics
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Photochemistry