We employ a range of imaging and biophysical technologies to probe the mechanics of cell division. We have combined multi-channel TIRF microscopy with single beam optical trapping, allowing us to observe the components of reconstituted ‘mini-spindles’ with high spatial and temporal resolution. At the same time, we can measure the forces that these spindle ‘building blocks’ can generate, as well as determine how they respond to mechanical perturbations. To image the dynamics of living cells, we use lattice light sheet and confocal microscopy. Lattice light sheet microscopy in particular allows us to rapidly image the entire dividing cell in all three dimensions at diffraction limited spatial resolutions, all without causing photodamage to the cell. These technologies allow us to monitor the real-time dynamics of the numerous key factors required for cell division and give us an unprecedented look into the organization of the spindle.
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