Chasing Uptake: Super-Resolution Microscopy in Endocytosis and Phagocytosis

Trends Cell Biol. 2019 Sep;29(9):727-739. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2019.05.006. Epub 2019 Jun 18.


Since their invention about two decades ago, super-resolution microscopes have become a method of choice in cell biology. Owing to a spatial resolution below 50 nm, smaller than the size of most organelles, and an order of magnitude better than the diffraction limit of conventional light microscopes, super-resolution microscopy is a powerful technique for resolving intracellular trafficking. In this review we discuss discoveries in endocytosis and phagocytosis that have been made possible by super-resolution microscopy - from uptake at the plasma membrane, endocytic coat formation, and cytoskeletal rearrangements to endosomal maturation. The detailed visualization of the diverse molecular assemblies that mediate endocytic uptake will provide a better understanding of how cells ingest extracellular material.

Keywords: endocytosis; endosomes; organelles; super-resolution microscopy; trafficking.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Endocytosis*
  • Endosomes / metabolism*
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Phagocytosis*
  • Protein Transport