Posted in | News | Imaging | Microscopy | NanoOptics

New Method Could Transform Clarity, Precision of Super-Resolution Imaging

A groundbreaking new method developed by researchers from the University of Exeter could transform the clarity, accuracy, and precision of super-resolution imaging systems.

Living Systems Institute building. Image Credit: University of Exeter.

A research group under the guidance of Dr Christian Soeller from the Living Systems Institute at the University of Exeter promotes interdisciplinary research and is a hub for new high-resolution measurement methods. The group has designed a new method to enhance the very fine, molecular imaging of biological samples.

The new technique is based on the successful working of a current super-resolution imaging method known as DNA-PAINT—Point Accumulation for Imaging in Nanoscale Topography—which involves labeling molecules in a cell with marker molecules that are fixed to single DNA strands.

Then, corresponding DNA strands are labeled with a fluorescent chemical compound and immersed in solution—when they bind the marker molecules, it gives rise to an effect known as the “blinking effect” that makes imaging feasible.

But DNA-PAINT has several disadvantages in its present form, restricting the applicability and performance of the technology for imaging tissues and biological cells.

As a result, the researchers have developed a new method, known as Repeat DNA-Paint, which can inhibit nonspecific signals and background noise, while also reducing the time required for the sampling process.

Most importantly, the Repeat DNA-PAINT technique is easy to use and does involve any familiar disadvantages; it can be regularly applied and consolidates the role of DNA-PAINT as one of the most powerful and versatile molecular resolution imaging techniques.

The study was published in the Nature Communications journal on January 21st, 2021.

We can now see molecular detail with light microscopy in a way that a few years ago seemed out of reach. This allows us to directly see how molecules orchestrate the intricate biological functions that enable life in both health and disease.

Dr Christian Soeller, Study Lead Author and Biophysicist, Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter

The study was enabled by collaborators from chemistry, mathematics, medicine, biology, and physics, working together across conventional discipline boundaries.

This work is a clear example of how quantitative biophysical techniques and concepts can really improve our ability to study biological systems.

Dr Lorenzo Di Michele, Study Co-Author, Imperial College London

Journal Reference

Clowsley, A. H., et al. (2021) Repeat DNA-PAINT suppresses background and non-specific signals in optical nanoscopy. Nature Communications.

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