Posts Tagged ‘Microscopy’

Holding tight on feathers – structural specializations and attachment properties of the avian ectoparasite Crataerina pallida (Diptera, Hippoboscidae) [RESEARCH ARTICLE]

Dennis S. Petersen, Nils Kreuter, Lars Heepe, Sebastian Büsse, Arndt H. J. Wellbrock, Klaudia Witte, and Stanislav N. GorbThe louse fly Crataerina pallida is an obligate blood-sucking ecto-parasite of the common swift Apus apus. Due to reducti…

Tracking the ultrafast motion of a single molecule by femtosecond orbital imaging

Watching a single molecule move on its intrinsic timescale has been one of the central goals of modern nanoscience, and calls for measurements that combine ultrafast temporal resolution with atomic spatial resolution. Steady-state experiments access the requisite spatial scales, as illustrated by direct imaging of individual molecular orbitals using scanning tunnelling microscopy or the acquisition of tip-enhanced Raman and luminescence spectra with sub-molecular resolution. But tracking the intrinsic dynamics of a single molecule directly in the time domain faces the challenge that interactions with the molecule must be confined to a femtosecond time window. For individual nanoparticles, such ultrafast temporal confinement has been demonstrated by combining scanning tunnelling microscopy with so-called lightwave electronics, which uses the oscillating carrier wave of tailored light pulses to directly manipulate electronic motion on timescales faster even than a single cycle of light. Here we build on ultrafast terahertz scanning tunnelling microscopy to access a state-selective tunnelling regime, where the peak of a terahertz electric-field waveform transiently opens an otherwise forbidden tunnelling channel through a single molecular state. It thereby removes a single electron from an individual pentacene molecule’s highest occupied molecular orbital within a time window shorter than one oscillation cycle of the terahertz wave. We exploit this effect to record approximately 100-femtosecond snapshot images of the orbital structure with sub-ångström spatial resolution, and to reveal, through pump/probe measurements, coherent molecular vibrations at terahertz frequencies directly in the time domain. We anticipate that the combination of lightwave electronics and the atomic resolution of our approach will open the door to visualizing ultrafast photochemistry and the operation of molecular electronics on the single-orbital scale.

Autocrine BDNF–TrkB signalling within a single dendritic spine

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor TrkB are crucial for many forms of neuronal plasticity, including structural long-term potentiation (sLTP), which is a correlate of an animal’s learning. However, it is unknown whether BDNF release and TrkB activation occur during sLTP, and if so, when and where. Here, using a fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based sensor for TrkB and two-photon fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy, we monitor TrkB activity in single dendritic spines of CA1 pyramidal neurons in cultured murine hippocampal slices. In response to sLTP induction, we find fast (onset < 1 min) and sustained (>20 min) activation of TrkB in the stimulated spine that depends on NMDAR (N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor) and CaMKII signalling and on postsynaptically synthesized BDNF. We confirm the presence of postsynaptic BDNF using electron microscopy to localize endogenous BDNF to dendrites and spines of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. Consistent with these findings, we also show rapid, glutamate-uncaging-evoked, time-locked BDNF release from single dendritic spines using BDNF fused to superecliptic pHluorin. We demonstrate that this postsynaptic BDNF–TrkB signalling pathway is necessary for both structural and functional LTP. Together, these findings reveal a spine-autonomous, autocrine signalling mechanism involving NMDAR–CaMKII-dependent BDNF release from stimulated dendritic spines and subsequent TrkB activation on these same spines that is crucial for structural and functional plasticity.

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