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      The combination of chemical fixation procedures with high pressure freezing and freeze substitution preserves highly labile tissue ultrastructure for electron tomography applications

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          Abstract

          The emergence of electron tomography as a tool for three dimensional structure determination of cells and tissues has brought its own challenges for the preparation of thick sections. High pressure freezing in combination with freeze substitution provides the best method for obtaining the largest volume of well-preserved tissue. However, for deeply embedded, heterogeneous, labile tissues needing careful dissection, such as brain, the damage due to anoxia and excision before cryofixation is significant. We previously demonstrated that chemical fixation prior to high pressure freezing preserves fragile tissues and produces superior tomographic reconstructions compared to equivalent tissue preserved by chemical fixation alone. Here, we provide further characterization of the technique, comparing the ultrastructure of Flock House Virus infected DL1 insect cells that were (1) high pressure frozen without fixation, (2) high pressure frozen following fixation, and (3) conventionally prepared with aldehyde fixatives. Aldehyde fixation prior to freezing produces ultrastructural preservation superior to that obtained through chemical fixation alone that is close to that obtained when cells are fast frozen without fixation. We demonstrate using a variety of nervous system tissues, including neurons that were injected with a fluorescent dye and then photooxidized, that this technique provides excellent preservation compared to chemical fixation alone and can be extended to selectively stained material where cryofixation is impractical.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Journal of Structural Biology
          Journal of Structural Biology
          Elsevier BV
          10478477
          March 2008
          March 2008
          : 161
          : 3
          : 359-371
          Article
          10.1016/j.jsb.2007.09.002
          2459253
          17962040
          © 2008

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