Remarkable video captures the flow of proteins inside an individual neuron

This is absolutely incredible. Molecular biologists at USC have captured video footage of a neuron so finely detailed, you can actually observe the transport of individual proteins throughout the cell's structure. This offers the researchers an unprecedented look at how neurons restore themselves on a day-to-day basis. They describe their novel imaging technique in the latest issue of Cell Reports.


"Your brain is being disassembled and reassembled every day," said study co-author Don Arnold in statement.

"One week from today, your brain will be made up of completely different proteins than it is today. This video shows the process. We've known that it was happening, but now we can watch it happen."

UPDATE #2: Don Arnold, who led the study, tells io9 the movie has a frame rate of around 15 fps, and that the speed of vesicle transport depicted in the video is roughly 15—20 times that of real-time.

UPDATE #1: Redditor d0peamine asked about how the speed of vesicle transport in this video compares to real-time. Here's what I dug up:

According to the article from which this video is taken (which is open acces, btw... available here), images for the video were collected at 1–1.5 frames/s for ~2 min.

I didn't see any information on the framerate of the video itself, but I did find the figure pictured below, which depicts the distance traveled by the vesicles over time. The graphs corresponding to the video up top are the ones depicting distance traveled over time for FM4-NgCAM-GFP (graphs C and F):

Illustration for article titled Remarkable video captures the flow of proteins inside an individual neuron

Given the size of the soma of the neuron in the video (~10uM diameter), it looks like these videos depict the vesicles moving at speeds several times real-time.

The researchers' findings are recounted in greater detail in the latest issue of Cell Reports (no subscription required)




Makes you think. Literally!