Promises and Pitfalls of Metal Imaging in Biology

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Journal Article
Cell Chemical Biology, 2018, 25 (1), pp. 7 - 18
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd A picture may speak a thousand words, but if those words fail to form a coherent sentence there is little to be learned. As cutting-edge imaging technology now provides us the tools to decipher the multitude of roles played by metals and metalloids in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, as well as health and disease, it is time to reflect on the advances made in imaging, the limitations discovered, and the future of a burgeoning field. In this Perspective, the current state of the art is discussed from a self-imposed contrarian position, as we not only highlight the major advances made over the years but use them as teachable moments to zoom in on challenges that remain to be overcome. We also describe the steps being taken toward being able to paint a completely undisturbed picture of cellular metal metabolism, which is, metaphorically speaking, the Holy Grail of the discipline. New technology has allowed visualization of metals in biology with unprecedented detail. New et al. discuss the potential and limitations for imaging metals in biological systems, and pose the question: how real are the pictures we create?
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