Fluorescent speckle microscopy, a method to visualize the dynamics of protein assemblies in living cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • Fluorescence microscopic visualization of fluorophore-conjugated proteins that have been microinjected or expressed in living cells and have incorporated into cellular structures has yielded much information about protein localization and dynamics [1]. This approach has, however, been limited by high background fluorescence and the difficulty of detecting movement of fluorescent structures because of uniform labeling. These problems have been partially alleviated by the use of more cumbersome methods such as three-dimensional confocal microscopy, laser photobleaching and photoactivation of fluorescence [2]. We report here a method called fluorescent speckle microscopy (FSM) that uses a very low concentration of fluorescent subunits, conventional wide-field fluorescence light microscopy and digital imaging with a low-noise, cooled charged coupled device (CCD) camera. A unique feature of this method is that it reveals the assembly dynamics, movement and turnover of protein assemblies throughout the image field of view at diffraction-limited resolution. We found that FSM also significantly reduces out-of-focus fluorescence and greatly improves visibility of fluorescently labeled structures and their dynamics in thick regions of living cells. Our initial applications include the measurement of microtubule movements in mitotic spindles and actin retrograde flow in migrating cells.

publication date

  • November 5, 1998