This is super resolution image (with approximately 10 nm resolution in x, y and z) of integrins in a migrating T cell. T cells are immune cells and must move, or migrate, around your body in order to fight disease. Our lab studies the spatial arrangement of proteins involved with T cell migration, by tagging them with a fluorophore that lights up like a beacon when you shine a laser on it. Each colourful dot represents a group of proteins. These ‘integrins’ act as hooks when they are in the cell membrane and facilitate migration as well as act as tethers to other immune cells for effective cell-cell communication.

We used a new technique called interferometric PALM to capture the information in the z direction, which corresponds to depth in this image. The image you see here is colour coded for z: where purple molecules are 600 nm above the height of the sample surface, and yellow molecules are around 200 nm above the surface. This volume that has been imaged here then has a depth of 400nm which is approximately 1000x times thinner than a human hair!

Submitted by Mike Shannon