Three-dimensional multiple-wavelength fluorescence microscopy for the structural analysis of biological phenomena

Semin Cell Biol. 1991 Jun;2(3):153-65.


Cellular events are accomplished by the coordinated interactions of cellular components within the three-dimensional context of a cell. Simultaneous observation of multiple components in three dimensions can be essential for understanding such interactions. Toward this end, we have developed a computerized microscope workstation capable of recording three-dimensional images of multiple cellular components in fixed and living cells. All aspects of microscope control, data collection, image processing and analysis can be performed on the one workstation. In this report, we describe the components and capabilities of this integrated system. In addition, we discuss some general problems of multiple-wavelength, three-dimensional imaging and our application of this technology to the analysis of chromosome organization in Drosophila melanogaster. Three-dimensional imaging of fixed embryos stained by indirect immunofluorescence has revealed the structural organization of chromosomes, microtubules, and the nuclear lamins. Imaging of living embryos injected with fluorescently labelled proteins has confirmed and extended these results by allowing the study of these structures throughout the cell cycle. The combination of the molecular specificity of fluorescence microscopy and the three-dimensional structural information obtained by our workstation has provided novel insights into the dynamic aspects of chromosome behavior during the cell cycle. We believe this system has many important applications in the study of the molecular basis of cellular events.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Staining and Labeling