Imaging of macromolecules with nanoscale super-resolution microscopy - Show me your macromolecules!

Area of relevance: 
Imaging & Molecular bioscience
1 August 2009 - 31 July 2012
Royal Institute of Technology/ Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden
Funded by: 
VR (The Swedish Research Council), Sweden


The purpose of this project is to contribute further to this understanding of the ‘molecules of life’, and especially to resolve questions not possible to dissect with common live-cell microscopy techniques. To achieve this we have implemented the nanoscale super-resolution technique of stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy invented by Prof. Stefan W Hell. This technique provides novel possibilities for directly analyzing nanoscopic protein assemblies and machinery in living cells. The accurate determination of a protein’s spatial distribution inside a cell is often intimately related to its function. It also facilitates direct visualization of molecular interactions and transport dynamics at the nanoscale. Full understanding of molecular functions in cells is only achievable if all interactions are considered and visualized (cf. research project image). Applying STED, the possibility to provide an enhanced understanding of the function and regulation of cellular machineries is improved considerably. When one is able to in detail understand the nanomachineries of the cell, how it works, how it is regulated and signals, the pathway to develop new and more efficient pharmacological strategies lays open. This would lead to a healthier European population and promote its pharmaceutical industry.