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Inexpensive Super-Resolution Microscopy

Counting and visualizing different molecular species in biological samples with high accuracy and precision at low cost

DNA-PAINT and Exchange-PAINT technologies (right image) dramatically improve the limited resolution abilities of single-molecule microscopes (left image). Shown are structures of thin microtubule fibers (green) that build a skeleton within cells and mitochondria (magenta) as the cell’s biochemical powerhouses both turned from blurry into super-sharp molecular images. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

Wyss Institute scientists have developed a highly versatile and inexpensive microscopic imaging platform designed to visualize objects with molecular-scale resolution and unprecedented complexity. The DNA-powered imaging technology can reveal the inner workings of cells at the single molecule level, using conventional microscopes found in most laboratories.

Key to the Wyss Institute’s DNA-driven imaging super resolution technology is the interaction of two short strands of DNA, one called the “docking strand” that is attached to the molecular target to be visualized and the other, called the “imager strand”, which carries a light-emitting dye.

Despite the recent revolution of optical imaging technologies that has enabled the distinction of molecular targets residing less than 200 nanometers apart from each other, modern super-resolution techniques have still been unable to accurately and precisely count the number of biomolecules at cellular locations. With DNA-PAINT super-resolution microscopy and qPAINT analysis, researchers will be able to quantify the number of molecules at specific locations in the cell without the need to spatially resolve them, without requiring an expensive large super-resolution microscope.

We aim to provide an ultimate view into biology.

Peng Yin

Ultivue, Inc., a startup launched out of the Wyss Institute, is focused on developing imaging solutions to unfold new areas of biology by leveraging DNA-PAINT to enable the precise co-localization of an unlimited number of targets.

Wyss Institute Core Faculty member Peng Yin and researcher Mingjie Dai explain in this video, how Discrete Molecular Imaging (DMI) can be used to enhance the DNA-PAINT super-resolution imaging platform to visualize features on a single-molecule scale.

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