New Delhi: An effective approach for examining the internal structure and operations of a crucial element of living cells has been devised by scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi in partnership with the University of Cincinnati in the United States. In order to investigate the lysosomes' nano-dimensional characteristics and functions as well as their interactions with mitochondria, another significant cell organelle, the researchers used metal nanoclusters in a technique called structured illumination microscopy (SIM).
“While SIM is not a new technique in itself, the novelty of this inter-institutional work is in the use of metal nanoclusters instead of lysosomal dyes that are usually used for this analytical technique, thereby improving the technique significantly,” said an IIT Mandi statement. SIM is based on the excitation of the sample with a structured pattern of light and the detection of the interference patterns by Near-infrared spectroscopy.
The typical dyes employed for SIM's lysosomal detection are photobleached over time and sensitive to the medium's acidity. Instead of lysosomal dyes, the researchers have employed tiny clusters of noble metals like gold and silver called nanoclusters to investigate the internal structure of this organelle using SIM. These clusters are 100,000 times smaller than the width of a single human hair.
These nanoclusters did not have any photo-bleaching problems, and also were not influenced by the acidity of the medium. Since these nanoclusters were small enough to enter the cells and even enter the subcellular structures such as the lysosome, they can be used to understand the functioning of these vital substructures of the cells, IIT Mandi statement added.