Optical imaging of metabolic dynamics in animals

Authors: Lingyan Shi, Chaogu Zheng, Yihui Shen, Zhixing Chen, Edilson S. Silveira, Luyuan Zhang, Mian Wei, Chang Liu, Carmen de Sena-Tomas, Kimara Targoff, Wei Min


Direct visualization of metabolic dynamics in living animals with high spatial and temporal resolution is essential to understanding many biological processes. Here we introduce a platform that combines deuterium oxide (D2O) probing with stimulated Raman scattering (DO-SRS) microscopy to image in situ metabolic activities. Enzymatic incorporation of D2O-derived deuterium into macromolecules generates carbon–deuterium (C–D) bonds, which track biosynthesis in tissues and can be imaged by SRS in situ. Within the broad vibrational spectra of C–D bonds, we discover lipid-, protein-, and DNA-specific Raman shifts and develop spectral unmixing methods to obtain C–D signals with macromolecular selectivity. DO-SRS microscopy enables us to probe de novo lipogenesis in animals, image protein biosynthesis without tissue bias, and simultaneously visualize lipid and protein metabolism and reveal their different dynamics. DO-SRS microscopy, being noninvasive, universally applicable, and cost-effective, can be adapted to a broad range of biological systems to study development, tissue homeostasis, aging, and tumor heterogeneity.

Source: Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1)