UNIT 4.17 Scanning Electron Microscopy of Cell Surface Morphology

  1. Samantha Passey,
  2. Stéphanie Pellegrin,
  3. Harry Mellor

Published Online: 1 DEC 2007

DOI: 10.1002/0471143030.cb0417s37

Current Protocols in Cell Biology

Current Protocols in Cell Biology

How to Cite

Passey, S., Pellegrin, S. and Mellor, H. 2007. Scanning Electron Microscopy of Cell Surface Morphology. Current Protocols in Cell Biology. 37:4.17.1–4.17.13.

Author Information

  1. Mammalian Cell Biology Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry, School of Medical Sciences, University of Bristol, United Kingdom

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 DEC 2007
  2. Published Print: DEC 2007


The surface of metazoan cells is a landscape not clearly visualized by light microscopy. Many cells elaborate protrusive structures such as microvilli, filopodia, lamellipodia, and surface ruffles that play important roles in the interaction between the cell and its environment. The high resolution of scanning electron microscopy makes it an ideal technique for studies of the cell surface; however, preservation of fine surface structure can be problematic. Here we highlight the critical factors in sample preparation to ensure optimal high-resolution imaging of the surface of mammalian cells and tissues. Curr. Protoc. Cell Biol. 37:4.17.1-4.17.13. © 2007 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • filopodia;
  • microvilli;
  • lamellepodia;
  • SEM;
  • actin