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Issue 38, 2016
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Low Stress Ion Conductance Microscopy of Sub-Cellular Stiffness

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Abstract

Directly examining subcellular mechanics whilst avoiding excessive strain of a live cell requires the precise control of light stress on very small areas, which is fundamentally difficult. Here we use a glass nanopipet out of contact with the plasma membrane to both exert the stress on the cell and also accurately monitor cellular compression. This allows the mapping of cell stiffness at a lateral resolution finer than 100 nm. We calculate the stress a nanopipet exerts on a cell as the sum of the intrinsic pressure between the tip face and the plasma membrane plus its direct pressure on any glycocalyx, both evaluated from the gap size in terms of the ion current decrease. A survey of cell types confirms that an intracellular pressure of approximately 120 Pa begins to detach the plasma membrane from the cytoskeleton and reveals that the first 0.66 ± 0.09 μm of compression of a neuron cell body is much softer than previous methods have been able to detect.

Graphical abstract: Low Stress Ion Conductance Microscopy of Sub-Cellular Stiffness

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Publication details

The article was received on 11 May 2016, accepted on 16 Aug 2016 and first published on 17 Aug 2016


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6SM01106C
Citation: Soft Matter, 2016,12, 7953-7958
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    Low Stress Ion Conductance Microscopy of Sub-Cellular Stiffness

    R. W. Clarke, P. Novak, A. Zhukov, E. J. Tyler, M. Cano-Jaimez, A. Drews, O. Richards, K. Volynski, C. Bishop and D. Klenerman, Soft Matter, 2016, 12, 7953
    DOI: 10.1039/C6SM01106C

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