Raja SO, Chizhik AI, Schmidt CF, Enderlein J, Ghosh A
Graphene-induced energy transfer (GIET) was recently introduced for the precise localization of fluorescent molecules along the optical axis of a microscope. GIET is based on near-field energy transfer from an optically excited fluorophore to a single sheet of graphene. As a proof-of-concept, we demonstrated its potential by determining the distance between the two leaflets of supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) with sub-nanometer accuracy. Here, we use GIET imaging for the three dimensional reconstruction of the mitochondrial membrane architecture. We map two quasi-stationary states of the inner and outer mitochondrial membranes before and during adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthesis. We trigger the ATP synthesis state in vitro by activating mitochondria with precursor molecules. Our results demonstrate that the inner membrane (IM) approaches the outer membrane (OM) while the outer membrane (OM) does not show a measurable change in average axial position upon activation. As a result, the inter-membrane space (IM-OM distance) is reduced by ~2 nm upon activation of the mitochondria. This direct experimental observation of the subtle dynamics of mitochondrial membranes and the change in inter-membrane distance induced by ATP synthesis is relevant for our understanding of the physical functioning of mitochondria.