High Resolution 3D Microscopy Enables to Reconstruct the Highways of Insulin Transport

Three-Dimensional Fib-Sem Reconstruction of Microtubule-Organelle Interaction in Whole Primary Mouse Beta Cells. Journal of Cell Biology, 2020

3D rendering (created by Deborah Schmidt) of one beta cell with insulin secretory granules (light orange), mitochondria (blue), nucleus (white) and microtubules (dark orange). © Müller at al. 2020


Microtubules are a part of cytoskeleton and act as highways for the transport of vesicles within the cell. However, their role in insulin transport and secretion is currently under debate. Now, an international team led by scientists of the Paul-Langerhans-Institute Dresden, a partner of the German Center of Diabetes Research (DZD), together with the CSBD, MPI-CBG, Janelia Research Campus, CMCB, Fondazione Human Technopole as well as the EPFL used high resolution 3D electron microscopy to image insulin secreting pancreatic islet beta cells in their entirety at an unprecedented resolution and reconstructed all insulin secretory granules, microtubules, mitochondria, Golgi apparati, and centrioles to generate a comprehensive spatial map of microtubule-organelle interactions. The outcome of this highly collaborative project was now published in the renowned journal “Journal of Cell Biology”.

Segmentation masks and crops of analyzed beta cells

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Full resolution beta cell volume for browsing

Original publication:
Müller A, Schmidt D, Shan Xu C, Pang S, Verner D’Costa J, Kretschmar S, Münster C, Kurth T, Jug F, Weigert M, Hess HF, Solimena M., Three-dimensional Fib-Sem reconstruction of microtubule-organelle interaction in whole primary mouse beta cells. Journal of Cell Biology (2020), DOI: https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.202010039