We examined the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, using X-ray tomography and demonstrate unique views of the internal structural organization of these cells at 60-nm resolution. Cryo X-ray tomography is a new imaging technique that generates three-dimensional (3-D) information of whole cells. In the energy range of X-rays used to examine cells, organic material absorbs approximately an order of magnitude more strongly than water. This produces a quantifiable natural contrast in fully hydrated cells and eliminates the need for chemical fixatives or contrast enhancement reagents to visualize cellular structures. Because proteins can be localized in the X-ray microscope using immunogold labeling protocols (Meyer-Ilse et al., 2001. J. Microsc. 201, 395-403), tomography enables 3-D molecular localization. The time required to collect the data for each cell shown here was <15 min and has recently been reduced to 3 min, making it possible to examine numerous yeast and to collect statistically significant high-resolution data. In this video essay, we show examples of 3-D tomographic reconstructions of whole yeast and demonstrate the power of this technology to obtain quantifiable information from whole, hydrated cells.
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