Electron microscopic visualization of everything from whole cells to individual molecules is the work of this laboratory. Special emphasis is given to developing new methods of sample preparation that will achieve a more natural, life-like appearance of samples in the microscope. To accomplish this, we have developed what is now called the "quick-freeze, deep-etch" technique for electron microscopy and have disseminated the equipment and procedures needed to carry out this technique throughout the field.
Currently, we use "quick-freezing" to capture several different cellular processes that are unusually fleeting, including membrane budding and fusion, synaptic vesicle discharge during neural transmission, movement of cilia and flagella on vertebrate and protozoal cells, and muscle contraction. In each case, our aim has been to visualize the underlying molecular mechanisms occuring. We also use "deep-etching" to visualize molecules adsorbed to inert substrates in order to study mechanisms of macromolecular assembly and disassembly in various processes, including remodeling of cytoskeletons, clathrin-mediated endocytosis, cell-to-cell recognition, and the formation of extracellular matrices.