Expansion microscopy is a relatively low-cost method for super-resolution imaging of biological tissues.
It enables biological tissues to expand and magnify to the point where they can be seen with an ordinary light microscope.
However, this approach has critical flaws.
The expansion process destroys the original structure of the cell and only one biomolecule can be imaged at a time.
The observation of different molecules requires different reagents and operations.
A paper published in Nature Biotechnology on Jan. 2nd introduces Magnify, a new extended microscopy protocol.
It not only overcame these difficulties, but also improved the linear expansion rate of the sample by a factor of 11.
The point of this research is a new hydrogel formulation.
Extended microscopy imaging requires embedding the biological sample into a hydrogel.
The hydrogel swells uniformly to increase the distance between molecules, allowing the sample volume to expand by a factor of 1300.
This allows the light microscope to observe cells at the hundred nanometer level.
Previously, for a cell to expand and swell, enzymes were needed to break down the protein to form a gel cavity, and the swollen gel cavity was used to represent the location of the protein.
The new method does not require disassembly of the observed objects, and not only maintains the molecular integrity, but also allows simultaneous observation of multiple objects such as proteins, nuclei, and lipids in a single sample.
In addition, Magnify is able to achieve the same expansion ratio for different densities of tissue.
It is also able to handle many different types of tissue samples.
Therefore, researchers will not have to learn many new operations.
Magnify’s advances may help deepen the understanding of future scientists in the fields of neuroscience, pathology, biology and medicine.