Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence Microscopy in Cell Biology



Key events in cellular trafficking occur at the cell surface, and it is desirable to visualize these events without interference from other regions deeper within. This review describes a microscopy technique based on total internal reflection fluorescence which is well suited for optical sectioning at cell-substrate regions with an unusually thin region of fluorescence excitation. The technique has many other applications as well, most notably for studying biochemical kinetics and single biomolecule dynamics at surfaces. A brief summary of these applications is provided, followed by presentations of the physical basis for the technique and the various ways to implement total internal reflection fluorescence in a standard fluorescence microscope.