New technique allows scientists to penetrate yeast cells' hard exterior

Sep 03, 2009
Yeast injection. By using the broad edge of a micropipette’s flexible tip, scientists have developed a way to inject yeast cells with specific molecules.

(PhysOrg.com) -- If you want to know how a cell responds to a particular chemical, the experiment is simple: Inject it with that chemical. Micropipettes — tiny needles that can puncture a cell and deliver a compound directly into it — are used precisely for this purpose. But biologists who study yeast have not had this tool available to them. A yeast cell’s rigid outer wall is too strong to be penetrated.

Rockefeller University’s Paul Nurse, president and head of the Laboratory of Yeast Genetics and , and Daniel Riveline, a visiting professor from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), have developed a technique that solves this problem. They used a tiny electric motor in conjunction with a pipette to “saw” an opening in the cell’s tough outer coating. By borrowing tools from the microfabrication industry, the new method allows scientists to successfully introduce markers such as fluorescent proteins into Schizosaccharomyces pombe yeast without killing them.

Rather than use the sharp, pointed end of the micropipette, the scientists use the broad side of its flexible tip to bend the cell wall of a single rod-shaped yeast cell that is held in place by a microfabricated grid-shaped substrate. After the wall buckles, they turn on a piezoelectric motor to vibrate the pipette’s tip, opening a hole and allowing its contents to enter the cell.

“Not all the cells survive the procedure, but a significant number do,” says Riveline, the technique’s innovator, who began to assemble the apparatus in his lab in the Laboratory of Physical (CNRS/Grenoble University). “The cell is able to repair the hole and can continue to grow and divide.”

Because its processes of growth and division are similar to those of mammals, yeast is a useful for cell biologists, particularly those studying the cell cycle. The technique opens up the possibility of new types of experiments in both S. pombe and S. cerevisiae budding yeast, which has a similar cell wall.

More information: Nature Methods 6(7): 513-514 (June 7, 2009) 'Injecting' ; Daniel Riveline and Paul Nurse; http://www.nature.com/nmeth/journal/v6/n7/abs/nmeth.1335.html

Provided by Rockefeller University (news : web)

Explore further: Friction harnessed by proteins helps organize cell division

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Active mechanism locks in the size of a cell's nucleus

Dec 24, 2007

Cells know that size matters, especially when it comes to the nucleus. In the early 1900s, German scientists first proposed that the size of a nucleus is always proportional to the size of its cell. Now, more than a century ...

How a Cell's Mitotic Motors Direct Key Life Processes

Feb 02, 2009

University of Massachusetts Amherst biologists have discovered a secret of how cells organize chromosomes to prepare for dividing. Their unexpected finding is reported in this week’s issue of the journal, Current Biology.

Yeast in an Egg Shell

Mar 28, 2008

Nature’s eggshells have inspired Chinese researchers: A team led by Ruikang Tang at Zhejiang University have successfully equipped living yeast cells with an artificial mineral coating. As reported in the journal Angewandte Ch ...

Recommended for you

For cells, internal stress leads to unique shapes

11 hours ago

From far away, the top of a leaf looks like one seamless surface; however, up close, that smooth exterior is actually made up of a patchwork of cells in a variety of shapes and sizes. Interested in how these ...

Adventurous bacteria

12 hours ago

To reproduce or to conquer the world? Surprisingly, bacteria also face this problem. Theoretical biophysicists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have now shown how these organisms should ...

Revealing camouflaged bacteria

14 hours ago

A research team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has discovered an protein family that plays a central role in the fight against the bacterial pathogen Salmonella within the cells. The so cal ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

More vets turn to prosthetics to help legless pets

A 9-month-old boxer pup named Duncan barreled down a beach in Oregon, running full tilt on soft sand into YouTube history and showing more than 4 million viewers that he can revel in a good romp despite lacking ...

Revealing camouflaged bacteria

A research team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has discovered an protein family that plays a central role in the fight against the bacterial pathogen Salmonella within the cells. The so cal ...

New clinical trial launched for advance lung cancer

Cancer Research UK is partnering with pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer to create a pioneering clinical trial for patients with advanced lung cancer – marking a new era of research into personalised medicines ...

'Chief Yahoo' David Filo returns to board

Yahoo announced the nomination of three new board members, including company co-founder David Filo, who earned the nickname and formal job title of "Chief Yahoo."