The contractile behavior and surface morphology of cultured neonatal rat heart cells were examined by phase contrast and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) following laser irradiation of single mitochondria. Irradiation always resulted in damage to the target mitochondrion (as determined by phase microscopy) and was associated with one of three contractile states, each of which correlated with a specific surface morphology over the irradiated mitochondrion. The results demonstrate that: (1) changes in the contractile activity of the cell correlate directly with morphological changes in the target organelle and in the membrane overlying the target organelle; (2) when the contractile activity of the cell remains unchanged, the morphology of the membrane overlying the target organelle appears normal via SEM even though the organelle is visibly damaged as judged by phase contrast microscopy; (3) the correlation between contractile behavior and surface morphology was the same regardless of which cell surface the laser beam passed through when entering the cell (i.e., through the cell surface directly apposed to the glass or through the free cell surface directly exposed to the medium); (4) the mitochondrial lesions could be compared to lesions made in dried red blood cells irradiated from either surface. (Again the lesions appeared identical regardless of the cell surface through which the laser beam entered.) These observations suggest that laser damage is produced equally in all directions from the focal point.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology