Laser microsurgery can be used to perform both cell biological manipulations, such as targeted cell ablation, and molecular genetic manipulations, such as genetic transformation and chromosome dissection. In this report, we describe a laser microsurgical method that can be used either to ablate single cells or to ablate a small area (1-3 μm diameter) of the extracellular matrix. In plants and microorganisms, the extracellular matrix consists of the cell wall. While conventional patch clamping of these cells, as well as of many animal cells, requires enzymatic digestion of the extracellular matrix, we illustrate that laser microsurgery of a portion of the wall enables patch clamp access to the plasma membrane of higher plant cells remaining situated in their tissue environment. What follows is a detailed description of the construction and use of an economical laser microsurgery system, including procedures for single cell and targeted cell wall ablation. This methodology will be of interest to scientists wishing to perform cellular or subcellular ablation with a high degree of accuracy, or wishing to study how the extracellular matrix affects ion channel function.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Physiology (medical)