Open LED Illuminator: A Simple and Inexpensive LED Illuminator for Fast Multicolor Particle Tracking in Neurons.
Dual-color live cell fluorescence microscopy of fast intracellular trafficking processes, such as axonal transport, requires rapid switching of illumination channels. Typical broad-spectrum sources necessitate the use of mechanical filter switching, which introduces delays between acquisition of different fluorescence channels, impeding the interpretation and quantification of highly dynamic processes. Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), however, allow modulation of excitation light in microseconds. Here we provide a step-by-step protocol to enable any scientist to build a research-grade LED illuminator for live cell microscopy, even without prior experience with electronics or optics. We quantify and compare components, discuss our design considerations, and demonstrate the performance of our LED illuminator by imaging axonal transport of herpes virus particles with high temporal resolution.