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Three-dimensional ATUM-SEM reconstruction and analysis of hepatic endoplasmic reticulum-organelle interactions

By Yi Jiang, Linlin Li, Xi Chen, Jiazheng Liu, Jingbin Yuan, Qiwei Xie, Hua Han

Posted 21 Nov 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.21.392662

The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a contiguous and complicated membrane network in eukaryotic cells, and membrane contact sites (MCSs) between the ER and other organelles perform vital cellular functions, including lipid homeostasis, metabolite exchange, calcium level regulation, and organelle division. Here, we establish a whole pipeline to reconstruct all ER, mitochondria, lipid droplets, lysosomes, peroxisomes, and nuclei by automated tape-collecting ultramicrotome scanning electron microscopy (ATUM-SEM) and deep-learning techniques, which generates an unprecedented 3D model for mapping liver samples. Furthermore, the morphology of various organelles is systematically analyzed. We found that the ER presents with predominantly flat cisternae and is knitted tightly all throughout the intracellular space and around other organelles. In addition, the ER has a smaller volume-to-membrane surface area ratio than other organelles, which suggests that the ER could be more suited for functions that require a large membrane surface area. Moreover, the MCSs between the ER and other organelles are explored. Our data indicate that ER-mitochondrial contacts are particularly abundant, especially for branched mitochondria. In addition, ER contacts with lipid droplets, lysosomes, and peroxisomes are also plentiful. In summary, we design an efficient method for obtaining a 3D reconstruction of biological structures at a nanometer resolution. Our study also provides the first 3D reconstruction of various organelles in liver samples together with important information fundamental for biochemical and functional studies in the liver.

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