Vitreous cryo-sectioning of cells facilitated by a micromanipulator

J Microsc. 2006 Nov;224(Pt 2):129-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2818.2006.01674.x.


Sectioning vitrified cells and tissues for cryo-electron microscopy is more challenging than room-temperature sectioning of plastic-embedded samples. As the sample must be kept very cold (<-130 degrees C) and because there is no liquid upon which the sections can float as they are cut, transferring the sections from the knife edge to a grid is one of the more difficult steps in the process. We employed a micromanipulator to hold and control the cryo-sections as they come off the knife. This allows slower cutting speeds than are typically used in vitreous cryo-sectioning and contributes to better control during cutting, which facilitates repeatable placement of a ribbon of sections onto a grid. The ribbon is kept under tension during the entire cutting process, which may decrease folding and/or compression, features that are inherent to vitreous sections. Furthermore, the added control afforded by this technique makes it easier for multiple ribbons to be placed on a single grid, thereby increasing the number of sections that can be examined and imaged during a microscopy session. It even allows for serial cryo-electron microscopy. As such, this approach is an advance in the cryo-microtomy of vitreous sections.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cryoelectron Microscopy / methods*
  • Frozen Sections / methods
  • Micromanipulation*
  • Microtomy / instrumentation
  • Microtomy / methods*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / ultrastructure*