JPK talks with Dr Frank Lafont, Director of the BioImaging Center Lille (BICeL), about the use of the NanoWizard® AFM together with fluorescence microscopy in the study of living cells.

The AFM-Super-Resolution Group led by Dr Frank Lafont (right)

JPK Instruments, a world-leading manufacturer of nanoanalytic instrumentation for research in life sciences and soft matter, reports on the biomedical studies on living cells at the BioImaging Center Lille (BICeL) under the direction of Dr Frank Lafont using JPK’s NanoWizard® AFM systems.

Dr Frank Lafont heads a Research Group and is the Scientific Director of the BioImaging Center Lille (BICeL). The Group and the Center bring together the work of several institutions: Univ. of Lille, CNRS, INSERM, Hosp. Univ. Ctr. de Lille and the Institut Pasteur de Lille. Multiple imaging techniques including atomic force, confocal and multiphoton microscopy are applied to develop advanced imaging methods in the study of living cells.

His Research Group is interested in host-pathogen interactions using AFM to examine molecule-molecule, molecule-cell, cell-cell force interactions and other parameters such as adhesion and elasticity. Molecules are bacterial adhesins, toxins and cells can be either from prokaryotes or eukaryotes. Their overall approach is multidisciplinary with biochemical assays, cell imaging and biophysics. As well as AFM, the group uses fluorescence imaging including super resolution methods (PALM/STORM, STED, SIM) and electron imaging (TEM, and (cryo)SEM/SEM-SBF).

There are several different AFMs at BICeL so it was interesting to learn about why Dr Lafont and his colleagues chose to add JPK systems. Dr Lafont: “We particularly appreciate the user-friendly interface and the design of the system. Together with options such as ULTRA, the BioMAT™ and CellHesion® modules, the NanoWizard® provides us with an excellent platform for our studies. More specifically, being able to couple/integrate the AFM with fluorescence microscopy fits our lab goal. The hardware design and accompanying software provides us with a powerful toolbox for the measurement of cell mechanics and to investigate adhesion of cells. The system software has proved to be very stable and its open design enables lots of possibilities to customize our measurements. The AFM has a very broad range of accessories which are all compatible with the NanoWizard® platform. These include PetriDishHeater™ and CoverslipHolder to give us excellent environmental control. We are also very pleased with the overall responsiveness of JPK in terms of service and applications support.”

The group is quite prolific in terms of the papers it has published over the past 5-6 years. A selection of these featuring the use of the JPK NanoWizard® AFM is listed below1-6.

The image shows the STED-AFM system incorporating JPK's NanoWizard® in the Lafont Group


1. CLAFEM: correlative light atomic force electron microscopy Janel S, Werkmeister E, Bongiovanni A, Lafont F, Barois N., 2017

2. Strength of Neisseria meningitidis binding to endothelial cells requires highly-ordered CD147/?2-adrenoceptor clusters assembled by alpha-actinin-4. Maïssa N, Covarelli V, Janel S, Durel B, Simpson N, Bernard SC, et al. , Nat Commun [Internet]. 2017;8:15764.

3. Ezrin enhances line tension along transcellular tunnel edges via NMIIa driven actomyosin cable formation Stefani C, Gonzalez-Rodriguez D, Senju Y, Doye A, Efimova N, Janel S, et al., Nat Commun [Internet]. 2017;8:15839.

4. Quantifying bacterial adhesion on antifouling polymer brushes via Single-Cell Force Spectroscopy Rodriguez-Emmenegger C, Janel S, de los Santos Pereira A, Bruns M, Lafont F., Polym Chem [Internet]. 2015

5. Interplay between troponin T phosphorylation and O-N-acetylglucosaminylation in ischaemic heart failure Dubois-Deruy E, Belliard A, Mulder P, Bouvet M, Smet-Nocca C, Janel S, et al. Cardiovasc Res. 2015;107(1):56–65.

6. A combined computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and experimental approach to quantify the adhesion force of bacterial cells attached to a plane surface Boulbene B, Morchain J, Bonin MM, Janel S, Lafont F, Schmitz P., AIChE J [Internet]. 2012 Dec 8 [cited 2014 Apr 17];58(12):3614–24.