Science Webinar Series

Visualizing Cell Signaling: Current Trends and New Technologies

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Science  11 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6180, pp. 215
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6180.215-c

Summary

Techniques for the study of intracellular ions are used widely in biology, including for the tracking of calcium waves or ions affecting pH within living cells. The ability to monitor changes in intracellular ion concentrations over time is vital for our understanding of signaling and functional pathways in cellular systems. These pathways are central to many fundamental processes such as muscle contraction and synaptic nerve signal transmission. Ion channels that span the outer cell membrane open or close in response to extracellular and intracellular signals, potentially altering how the cell behaves. These fluctuations can be visualized and quantified using ratiometric microscopy and special fluorescent dyes designed to bind specific ions, such as the FURA-2 indicator dye specific to calcium ions. Changes in the photophysics of the dye as it binds to its target ion allows for quantitation of the bound and unbound ratio, and thus the concentration of the ion under investigation. This webinar will introduce the viewer to the current state of technology in this important field as well as cover the latest advances in microscopy for ion signaling research.