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PLOS ONE  2013 

Raman Spectroscopic Imaging of the Whole Ciona intestinalis Embryo during Development

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071739

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Intracellular composition and the distribution of bio-molecules play central roles in the specification of cell fates and morphogenesis during embryogenesis. Consequently, investigation of changes in the expression and distribution of bio-molecules, especially mRNAs and proteins, is an important challenge in developmental biology. Raman spectroscopic imaging, a non-invasive and label-free technique, allows simultaneous imaging of the intracellular composition and distribution of multiple bio-molecules. In this study, we explored the application of Raman spectroscopic imaging in the whole Ciona intestinalis embryo during development. Analysis of Raman spectra scattered from C. intestinalis embryos revealed a number of localized patterns of high Raman intensity within the embryo. Based on the observed distribution of bio-molecules, we succeeded in identifying the location and structure of differentiated muscle and endoderm within the whole embryo, up to the tailbud stage, in a label-free manner. Furthermore, during cell differentiation, we detected significant differences in cell state between muscle/endoderm daughter cells and daughter cells with other fates that had divided from the same mother cells; this was achieved by focusing on the Raman intensity of single Raman bands at 1002 or 1526 cm?1, respectively. This study reports the first application of Raman spectroscopic imaging to the study of identifying and characterizing differentiating tissues in a whole chordate embryo. Our results suggest that Raman spectroscopic imaging is a feasible label-free technique for investigating the developmental process of the whole embryo of C. intestinalis.


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