ATUM-Tomo: A multi-scale approach to cellular ultrastructure by combined volume scanning electron microscopy and electron tomography

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


  • Georg Kislinger - (Autor:in)
  • Gunar Fabig - , Experimentelles Zentrum (Autor:in)
  • Antonia Wehn - (Autor:in)
  • Lucia Rodriguez - (Autor:in)
  • Hanyi Jiang - (Autor:in)
  • Cornelia Niemann - (Autor:in)
  • Andrey S. Klymchenko - (Autor:in)
  • Nikolaus Plesnila - (Autor:in)
  • Thomas Misgeld - (Autor:in)
  • Thomas Müller-Reichert - , Experimentelles Zentrum (Autor:in)
  • Igor Khalin - (Autor:in)
  • Martina Schifferer - (Autor:in)


Like other volume electron microscopy approaches, Automated Tape Collecting Ultramicrotomy (ATUM) enables imaging of serial sections deposited on thick plastic tapes by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). However, ATUM is unique by enabling hierarchical imaging and thus efficient screening for target structures as needed e.g., for correlated light and electron microscopy. However, SEM of sections on tape can only access the section surface, thereby limiting the axial resolution to the typical size of cellular vesicles, an order of magnitude lower than the acquired xy resolution. In contrast, serial-section electron tomography (ET), a transmission electron microscopy-based approach, yields isotropic voxels at full EM resolution, but requires deposition of sections on electron-permeant thin and fragile monolayer films – thus making screening of large section libraries difficult and prone to section loss. To combine the strength of both approaches, we developed ‘ATUM-Tomo’, a hybrid method, where sections are first reversibly attached to plastic tape via a dissolvable coating, and after screening detached and transferred to the ET-compatible thin films. Thus, ATUM-SEM of serial semi-thick sections and consecutive ET of one selected section combines SEM’s fast target recognition and coarse rendering capability with ET’s high-resolution volume visualizations – thus enabling multi-scale interrogation of cellular ultrastructure. As a proof-of-principle, we applied correlative ATUM-Tomo to study ultrastructural features of blood brain barrier (BBB) leakiness around microthrombi in a mouse model of traumatic brain injury. Microthrombi and associated sites of BBB leakiness were identified by confocal imaging of injected fluorescent and electron-dense nanoparticles, then relocalized by ATUM-SEM, and finally interrogated by correlated ATUM-Tomo, a workflow which created a seamless zoom-in on structural BBB pathology from the micro- to the nanometer scale. Overall, our new ATUM-Tomo approach will substantially advance ultrastructural analysis of biological phenomena that require cell- and tissue-level contextualization of the finest subcellular textures.


PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 10 Okt. 2023