FLUORESCENCE IMAGING/CELL BIOLOGY/DRUG DEVELOPMENT: 'DNA origami' technology boosts labeling options for fluorescence microscopy

Fluorescence microscopy is currently limited by the number of colors available, and sometimes the colors blur. But an approach developed at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) enables colored dots to be arranged in nearly limitless combinations—thus substantially boosting the number of distinct molecules or cells observable in a sample. And the colors are easily distinguished.

The "DNA origami" technology harnesses the natural ability of DNA to self-assemble. It follows the basic principle that molecular bases in the double helix bind only in specific ways. So a long strand of DNA is programmed to self-assemble by folding in on itself with the help of shorter strands to create predetermined forms.

More than 200 color combinations result from attaching just three colors to a DNA nanotube using DNA origami technology
More than 200 color combinations result from attaching just three colors to a DNA nanotube using "DNA origami" technology. (Image courtesy of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Medical School)

To these DNA nano-structures, researchers can then attach fluorescent molecules to the desired spots, and thus generate a large pool of labels using just a few basic molecules. "The intrinsic rigidity of the engineered DNA nanostructures is this method's greatest advantage; it holds the fluorescent pattern in place without the use of external forces. It also holds great promise for using the method to study cells in their native environments," says Peng Yin, co-author of a paper describing the work.1 As proof of concept, the team demonstrated that one of their new labels successfully attached to the surface of a yeast cell.

Preliminary work to learn what happens when the fluorescent tags are mixed together in a cell sample has produced promising results. And, according to Yin, it is "low-cost, easy to do, and more robust compared to current methods." The potential for this method includes aiding development of targeted drug-delivery mechanisms and expanding the cellular and molecular activities observable at a disease site.

1. C. Lin et al., Nat. Chem., 4, 832–839, doi:10.1038/nchem.1451(2012).

Get All the BioOptics World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to BioOptics World Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now
Related Articles

New bioimaging technique offers clear view of nervous system

Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians University have developed a technique for turning the body of a deceased rodent entirely transparent, revealing the central nervous system in unprecedented clarity....

Fluorescent jellyfish proteins light up unconventional laser

Safer lasers to map your cells could soon be in the offing -- all thanks to the humble jellyfish. Conventional lasers, like the pointer you might use to entertain your cat, produce light by emittin...

Fluorescence microscopy helps provide new insight into how cancer cells metastasize

By using fluorescence microscopy, scientists have discovered an alternate theory on how some cancer cells metastasize.

In vivo imaging method visualizes bone-resorbing cell function in real time

In vivo imaging can visualize sites where osteoclasts (bone-resorbing cells) were in the process of resorbing bone.


Neuro15 exhibitors meet exacting demands: Part 2

Increasingly, neuroscientists are working with researchers in disciplines such as chemistry and p...

Why be free?

A successful career contributed to keeping OpticalRayTracer—an optical design software program—fr...

LASER Munich 2015 is bio-bent

LASER World of Photonics 2015 included the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics among its si...

White Papers

Understanding Optical Filters

Optical filters can be used to attenuate or enhance an image, transmit or reflect specific wavele...

How can I find the right digital camera for my microscopy application?

Nowadays, image processing is found in a wide range of optical microscopy applications. Examples ...



Twitter- BioOptics World