Novel technique could transform super-resolution imaging systems

Researchers have designed a new groundbreaking method that could transform the clarity, precision, and accuracy of super-resolution imaging systems.

Novel technique could transform super-resolution imaging systems
Living Systems Institute building. Image Credit: University of Exeter.

A research team, headed by Dr. Christian Soeller from the Living Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, has developed a new method to enhance the extremely fine, molecular imagery of biological specimens. The University of Exeter is renowned for interdisciplinary research and is a center for new high-resolution measurement methods.

The novel technique builds on the popularity of the current super-resolution imaging method, known as Point Accumulation for Imaging in Nanoscale Topography, or DNA-PAINT for short. In this method, cell molecules are labeled with marker molecules attached to single strands of DNA.

Following this, corresponding DNA strands are also marked with a fluorescent chemical substance and added to a solution—when these DNA strands bind the marker molecules, the compound produces a “'blinking effect” that makes imaging viable.

But DNA-PAINT is known to have several disadvantages in its current form, which tend to limit the performance and applicability of technology when imaging biological tissues and cells.

To address this problem, the researchers have created a new method known as Repeat DNA-Paint. This method can suppress non-specific signals and background noise, and also reduce the time involved in the sampling process.

Most significantly, the Repeat DNA-PAINT technique can be used easily and does not have any known disadvantage. It is routinely pertinent and consolidates DNA-PAINT as one of the most versatile and powerful molecular resolution imaging techniques. The findings were 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 facilitated by collaborators from the fields of biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, and medicine, working together across the boundaries of traditional disciplines.

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

Source:
Journal reference:

Clowsley, A. H., et al. (2021) Repeat DNA-PAINT suppresses background and non-specific signals in optical nanoscopy. Nature Communications. doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20686-z.

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