Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 251–270 | Cite as

Sample preparation and imaging of erythrocyte cytoskeleton with the atomic force microscopy

  • Fei Liu
  • Joel Burgess
  • Hiroshi Mizukami
  • Agnes OstafinEmail author
Original Article


A novel method for the covalent attachment of erythrocytes to glass microscope coverslips that can be used to image intact cells and the cytoplasmic side of the cell membrane with either solid or liquid mode atomic force microscopy (AFM) is described. The strong binding of cells to the glass surface is achieved by the interaction of cell membrane carbohydrates to lectin, which is bound to N-5-azido-2-nitrobenzoyloxysuccinimide (ANBNOS)-coated coverslips (1). The effectiveness of this method is compared with the other commonly used methods of immobilizing intact erythrocytes on glass coverslips for AFM observations. Experimental conditions of AFM imaging of biologic tissue are discussed, and typical topographies of the extracellular and the cytoplasmic surfaces of the plasma membrane in the dry state and in the liquid state are presented. Comparison of the spectrin network of cell age-separated erythrocytes has demonstrated significant loss in the network order in older erythrocytes. The changes are quantitatively described using the pixel height histogram and window size grain analysis.

Index Entries

Erythrocyte cytoskeleton spectrin atomic force microscopy biological membranes 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fei Liu
    • 1
  • Joel Burgess
    • 1
  • Hiroshi Mizukami
    • 2
  • Agnes Ostafin
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of Notre DameNotre Dame
  2. 2.Department of Biological ScienceWayne State UniversityDetroit

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