Imaging actin organisation and dynamics in 3D

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The actin cytoskeleton plays a critical role in cell architecture and the control of fundamental processes including cell division, migration and survival. The dynamics and organisation of F-actin have been widely studied in a breadth of cell types on classical two-dimensional (2D) surfaces. Recent advances in optical microscopy have enabled interrogation of these cytoskeletal networks in cells within three-dimensional (3D) scaffolds, tissues and in vivo. Emerging studies indicate that the dimensionality experienced by cells has a profound impact on the structure and function of the cytoskeleton, with cells in 3D environments exhibiting cytoskeletal arrangements that differ to cells in 2D environments. However, the addition of a third (and fourth, with time) dimension leads to challenges in sample preparation, imaging and analysis, necessitating additional considerations to achieve the required signal-to-noise ratio and spatial and temporal resolution. Here, we summarise the current tools for imaging actin in a 3D context and highlight examples of the importance of this in understanding cytoskeletal biology and the challenges and opportunities in this domain.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2024

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