Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Live imaging of host-microbe interactions

Two photon excitation microscopy allows imaging of living tissue up to a depth of one millimeter. Karel Svoboda has used this to amazing effect to study neurons in mice. I wonder if it would be possible to apply a similar approach to study host-microbe interactions in real time. The idea would be to create a few strains of fluorescently labeled bacteria (or make a fusion protein or U. Alon style fluorescent promoter of a key protein or two) and watch them interact in real time with the gut of a mouse after you feed or inject the mouse with different drugs.

  1. how thick is the intestinal lining (i.e. is it greater than 1mm?)
  2. how easy it is to do surgery on the mouse to get to the intestine?
  3. how easy is it to sew the mouse back up and have sorta a ready-access flap into the intestine like Svoboda does with the mouse neurons?
  4. how much will it alter the physiology of the mouse to have an open wound near the intestine?
2-photon links

Update Dec 2, 2007
Jost Enninga, Philippe Sansonetti and Regis Tournebize wrote an excellent review that covers this idea and much more (as is always the case, this idea has already be worked on to some extent, though never in the context of an intestine as far as I know).

Roundtrip explorations of bacterial infection: from single cells to the entire host and back.
Trends in Microbiology, Nov 2007

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