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Mass Measurements of Focal Adhesions in Single Cells Using High Resolution Surface Plasmon Resonance Microscopy



Alexander W. Peterson, Alessandro Tona, Michael W. Halter, Anne L. Plant, John T. Elliott


Surface plasmon resonance microscopy (SPRM) is a powerful label-free imaging technique with spatial resolution approaching the optical diffraction limit. The high sensitivity of SPRM to small changes in index of refraction at an interface allows imaging of dynamic protein structures within a cell. Visualization of subcellular features, such as focal adhesions (FAs), can be performed on live cells using a high numerical aperture objective lens with a digital light projector to precisely position the incident angle of the excitation light. Within the cell-substrate region of the SPRM image, punctate regions of high contrast are putatively identified as the cellular FAs. Optical parameter analysis is achieved by application of the Fresnel model to the SPRM data and resulting refractive index measurements are used to calculate protein mass. FAs are known to be regions of high protein density that reside at the cell-substratum interface. Comparing SPRM with fluorescence images of antibody stained for vinculin, a component in FAs, reveals similar measurements of FA size. In addition, a positive correlation between FA size and protein density is revealed by SPRM. Comparing SPRM images for two cell types reveals a distinct difference in the protein density and mass of their respective FAs. Application of SPRM to quantify mass can greatly aid monitoring basic processes that control FA mass and growth and contribute to accurate models that describe cell- extracellular interactions.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of SPIE
Conference Dates
January 27-February 1, 2018
Conference Location
San Francisco, CA
Conference Title
SPIE Photonics West BIOS: Plasmonics in Biology and Medicine XV


Surface plasmon, SPRM, focal adhesions, mass, density, cells, proteins, microscope


Peterson, A. , Tona, A. , Halter, M. , Plant, A. and Elliott, J. (2018), Mass Measurements of Focal Adhesions in Single Cells Using High Resolution Surface Plasmon Resonance Microscopy, Proceedings of SPIE, San Francisco, CA, [online], (Accessed May 22, 2024)


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Created February 23, 2018, Updated November 10, 2018