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Single molecule localization microscopy with autonomous feedback loops for ultrahigh precision

By Simao Coelho, Jongho Baek, Matthew S Graus, James M Halstead, Philip R Nicovich, Kristen Feher, Hetvi Gandhi, Katharina Gaus

Posted 05 Dec 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/487728

Single-molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) promises to provide truly molecular scale images of biological specimens. However, mechanical instabilities in the instrument, readout errors and sample drift constitute significant challenges and severely limit both the useable data acquisition length and the localization accuracy of single molecule emitters. Here, we developed an actively stabilized total internal fluorescence (TIRF) microscope that performs 3D real-time drift corrections and achieves a stability of ≤1 nm. Self-alignment of the emission light path and corrections of readout errors of the camera automate channel alignment and ensure localization precisions of 1-4 nm in DNA origami structures and cells for different labels. We used Feedback SMLM to measure the separation distance of signaling receptors and phosphatases in T cells. Thus, an improved SMLM enables direct distance measurements between molecules in intact cells on the scale between 1-20 nm, potentially replacing Forster resonance energy transfer (FRET) to quantify molecular interactions. In summary, by overcoming the major bottlenecks in SMLM imaging, it is possible to generate molecular images with nanometer accuracy and conduct distance measurements on the biological relevant length scales.

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