An approach to imaging of living cell surface topography by scanning tunneling microscopy

Etsuro Ito, Tetsuo Takahashi, Kiyoshi Hama, Tohru Yoshioka*, Wataru Mizutani, Hajime Shimizu, Masatoshi Ono

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Since a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) was developed, an observation of living cell surface has been one of the final aims in the biological application of STM. By developing a new style of STM which was combined with an optical microscope and with a novel system for the centering of both images, we successfully got the STM images of living cell surface of T24 cells (human bladder cancer cell line) and CHO cells (Chinese hamster ovary fibroblast) cultured on highly oriented pyrolytic graphite under the appropriate condition (V > 8.0 V, I < 0.2 nA). Unexpectedly, the living T24 cell showed a slightly uneven surface with a steep foot slope. The CHO cell showed more rough surface with steeper slope of cell foot. Although the STM system had a fine spatial resolution less than 3 nm, the profile of living cell surface covered with electrolyte was clear only when the scanning area was more than 10 μm square.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-643
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1991 Jun 14

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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