4D Microscopy of Yeast

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


The goal of this protocol is to characterize how membrane compartments form and transform in live cells of budding yeast. Many intracellular compartments in yeast are dynamic, and a full understanding of their properties requires time-lapse imaging. Multi-color 4D confocal fluorescence microscopy is a powerful method for tracking the behavior and composition of an intracellular compartment on a time scale of 5-15 min. Rigorous analysis of compartment dynamics requires the capture of thousands of optical sections. To achieve this aim, photobleaching and phototoxicity are minimized by scanning rapidly at very low laser power, and the pixel dimensions and Z-step intervals are set to the largest values that are compatible with sampling the image at full resolution. The resulting 4D data sets are noisy but can be smoothed by deconvolution. Even with high quality data, the analysis phase is challenging because intracellular structures are often numerous, heterogeneous, and mobile. To meet this need, custom ImageJ plugins were written to array 4D data on a computer screen, identify structures of interest, edit the data to isolate individual structures, quantify the fluorescence time courses, and make movies of the projected Z-stacks. 4D movies are particularly useful for distinguishing stable compartments from transient compartments that turn over by maturation. Such movies can also be used to characterize events such as compartment fusion, and to test the effects of specific mutations or other perturbations.