High contrast en bloc staining of neuronal tissue for field emission scanning electron microscopy

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Nature Protocol (Impact Factor: 9.67). 02/2012; 7(2):193-206. DOI: 10.1038/nprot.2011.439
Source: PubMed


Conventional heavy metal poststaining methods on thin sections lend contrast but often cause contamination. To avoid this problem, we tested several en bloc staining techniques to contrast tissue in serial sections mounted on solid substrates for examination by field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM). Because FESEM section imaging requires that specimens have higher contrast and greater electrical conductivity than transmission electron microscopy (TEM) samples, our technique uses osmium impregnation (OTO) to make the samples conductive while heavily staining membranes for segmentation studies. Combining this step with other classic heavy metal en bloc stains, including uranyl acetate (UA), lead aspartate, copper sulfate and lead citrate, produced clean, highly contrasted TEM and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) samples of insect, fish and mammalian nervous systems. This protocol takes 7-15 d to prepare resin-embedded tissue, cut sections and produce serial section images.

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Available from: Narayanan Kasthuri, Jan 27, 2015
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    • "Images of mouse piriform cortex The datasets described here were acquired from the piriform cortex of an adult mouse prepared with aldehyde fixation and reduced osmium staining [25]. The tissue was sectioned using the automatic tape collecting ultramicrotome (ATUM)[26] and sections were imaged on a Zeiss field emission scanning electron microscope [27]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Efforts to automate the reconstruction of neural circuits from 3D electron microscopic (EM) brain images are critical for the field of connectomics. An important computation for reconstruction is the detection of neuronal boundaries. Images acquired by serial section EM, a leading 3D EM technique, are highly anisotropic, with inferior quality along the third dimension. For such images, the 2D max-pooling convolutional network has set the standard for performance at boundary detection. Here we achieve a substantial gain in accuracy through three innovations. Following the trend towards deeper networks for object recognition, we use a much deeper network than previously employed for boundary detection. Second, we incorporate 3D as well as 2D filters, to enable computations that use 3D context. Finally, we adopt a recursively trained architecture in which a first network generates a preliminary boundary map that is provided as input along with the original image to a second network that generates a final boundary map. Backpropagation training is accelerated by ZNN, a new implementation of 3D convolutional networks that uses multicore CPU parallelism for speed. Our hybrid 2D-3D architecture could be more generally applicable to other types of anisotropic 3D images, including video, and our recursive framework for any image labeling problem.
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    • "For large volumes to be imaged quickly, good contrast is essential. We often use a combination of the (R)OTO technique for enhancing osmium staining en bloc and lead citrate post section staining (Tapia et al., 2012). It is important to note, that by thickening and darkening membranes, this technique can make synapses more difficult to identify in single sections. "
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    ABSTRACT: The automated tape-collecting ultramicrotome (ATUM) makes it possible to collect large numbers of ultrathin sections quickly-the equivalent of a petabyte of high resolution images each day. However, even high throughput image acquisition strategies generate images far more slowly (at present ~1 terabyte per day). We therefore developed WaferMapper, a software package that takes a multi-resolution approach to mapping and imaging select regions within a library of ultrathin sections. This automated method selects and directs imaging of corresponding regions within each section of an ultrathin section library (UTSL) that may contain many thousands of sections. Using WaferMapper, it is possible to map thousands of tissue sections at low resolution and target multiple points of interest for high resolution imaging based on anatomical landmarks. The program can also be used to expand previously imaged regions, acquire data under different imaging conditions, or re-image after additional tissue treatments.
    Frontiers in Neural Circuits 06/2014; 8:68. DOI:10.3389/fncir.2014.00068 · 3.60 Impact Factor
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    • "Thus microCT scanning could be considered as a routine procedure before TEM investigation, because it provides valuable additional information and compared to the TEM procedures it causes little extra time effort at tolerable operating costs (during the last years microCT scanners became much more frequent in labs and thus broadly available to researchers). This is also true for methods such as SBF-SEM (3View) [41] and FIB-SEM [42], where samples are stained en bloc prior to embedding in resin. This differs slightly from conventional TEM procedures prior to embedding in that the osmium tetroxide treatment is usually intensified and additional metal compounds are applied to enhance contrast. "
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    ABSTRACT: In biomedical research, a huge variety of different techniques is currently available for the structural examination of small specimens, including conventional light microscopy (LM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), microscopic X-ray computed tomography (microCT), and many others. Since every imaging method is physically limited by certain parameters, a correlative use of complementary methods often yields a significant broader range of information. Here we demonstrate the advantages of the correlative use of microCT, light microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy for the analysis of small biological samples. We used a small juvenile bivalve mollusc (Mytilus galloprovincialis, approximately 0.8 mm length) to demonstrate the workflow of a correlative examination by microCT, LM serial section analysis, and TEM-re-sectioning. Initially these three datasets were analyzed separately, and subsequently they were fused in one 3D scene. This workflow is very straightforward. The specimen was processed as usual for transmission electron microscopy including post-fixation in osmium tetroxide and embedding in epoxy resin. Subsequently it was imaged with microCT. Post-fixation in osmium tetroxide yielded sufficient X-ray contrast for microCT imaging, since the X-ray absorption of epoxy resin is low. Thereafter, the same specimen was serially sectioned for LM investigation. The serial section images were aligned and specific organ systems were reconstructed based on manual segmentation and surface rendering. According to the region of interest (ROI), specific LM sections were detached from the slides, re-mounted on resin blocks and re-sectioned (ultrathin) for TEM. For analysis, image data from the three different modalities was co-registered into a single 3D scene using the software AMIRA(R). We were able to register both the LM section series volume and TEM slices neatly to the microCT dataset, with small geometric deviations occurring only in the peripheral areas of the specimen. Based on co-registered datasets the excretory organs, which were chosen as ROI for this study, could be investigated regarding both their ultrastructure as well as their position in the organism and their spatial relationship to adjacent tissues. We found structures typical for mollusc excretory systems, including ultrafiltration sites at the pericardial wall, and ducts leading from the pericardium towards the kidneys, which exhibit a typical basal infolding system. The presented approach allows a comprehensive analysis and presentation of small objects regarding both the overall organization as well as cellular and subcellular details. Although our protocol involves a variety of different equipment and procedures, we maintain that it offers savings in both effort and cost. Co-registration of datasets from different imaging modalities can be accomplished with high-end desktop computers and offers new opportunities for understanding and communicating structural relationships within organisms and tissues. In general, the correlative use of different microscopic imaging techniques will continue to become more widespread in morphological and structural research in zoology. Classical TEM serial section investigations are extremely time consuming, and modern methods for 3D analysis of ultrastructure such as SBF-SEM and FIB-SEM are limited to very small volumes for examination. Thus the re-sectioning of LM sections is suitable for speeding up TEM examination substantially, while microCT could become a key-method for complementing ultrastructural examinations.
    Frontiers in Zoology 08/2013; 10(1):44. DOI:10.1186/1742-9994-10-44 · 3.05 Impact Factor
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