Single-molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) is a powerful super-resolution technique for elucidating structure and dynamics in the life- and material sciences. Simultaneously acquiring spectral information (spectrally resolved SMLM, sSMLM) has been hampered by several challenges: an increased complexity of the optical detection pathway, lower accessible emitter densities, and compromised spatio-spectral resolution. Here we present a single-component, low-cost implementation of sSMLM that addresses these challenges. Using a low-dispersion transmission grating positioned close to the image plane, the +1st diffraction order is minimally elongated and is analyzed using existing single-molecule localization algorithms. The distance between the 0th and 1st order provides accurate information on the spectral properties of individual emitters. This method enables a 5-fold higher emitter density while discriminating between fluorophores whose peak emissions are less than 15 nm apart. Our approach can find widespread use in single-molecule applications that rely on distinguishing spectrally different fluorophores under low photon conditions.
In mayonnaise, lipid and protein oxidation are closely related and the interplay between them is critical for understanding the chemical shelf-life stability of mayonnaise. This is in particular the case for comprehending the role of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles acting as a main emulsifier. Here, we monitored oxidation and the concomitant aggregation of LDLs by bright-field light microscopy and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy. We further probed the formation of protein radicals and protein oxidation by imaging the accumulation of a water-soluble fluorescent spin trap and protein autofluorescence. The effect of variation of pH and addition of EDTA on the accumulation of the spin trap validated that protein radicals were induced by lipid radicals. Our data suggests two main pathways of oxidative protein radical formation in LDL particles: (1) at the droplet interface, induced by lipid free radicals formed in oil droplets, and (2) in the continuous phase induced by an independent LDL-specific mechanism.
Light microscopy enables researchers to observe cellular mechanisms with high spatial and temporal resolution. However, the increasing complexity of current imaging technologies, coupled with financial constraints of potential users, hampers the general accessibility and potential reach of cutting-edge microscopy. Open microscopy can address this issue by making well-designed and well-documented hardware and software solutions openly available to a broad audience. In this Comment, we provide a definition of open microscopy and present recent projects in the field. We discuss current and future challenges of open microscopy and their implications for funders, policymakers, researchers and scientists. We believe that open microscopy requires a holistic approach. Sample preparation, designing and building of hardware components, writing software, data acquisition and data interpretation must go hand in hand to enable interdisciplinary and reproducible science to the benefit of society.
Turbidity poses a major challenge for the microscopic characterization of food systems. Local mismatches in refractive indices, for example, lead to significant image deterioration along sample depth. To mitigate the issue of turbidity and to increase the accessible optical resolution in food microscopy, we added adaptive optics (AO) and flat-field illumination to our previously published open microscopy framework, the miCube. In the detection path, we implemented AO via a deformable mirror to compensate aberrations and to modulate the emission wavefront enabling the engineering of point spread functions (PSFs) for single-molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) in three dimensions. As a model system for a non-transparent food colloid such as mayonnaise, we designed an oil-in-water emulsion containing the ferric ion binding protein phosvitin commonly present in egg yolk. We targeted phosvitin with fluorescently labelled primary antibodies and used PSF engineering to obtain two- and three-dimensional images of phosvitin covered oil droplets with sub 100 nm resolution. Our data indicated that phosvitin is homogeneously distributed at the interface. With the possibility to obtain super-resolved images in depth, our work paves the way for localizing biomacromolecules at heterogeneous colloidal interfaces in food emulsions.
This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Super-resolution structured illumination microscopy (part 2)’.
J. Hohlbein, Food Structure, 30, 100236, 2021, [link]
Optical microscopy is an indispensable tool to characterize the microstructure of foods at ambient conditions. Depending on both the wavelength of light used to illuminate the sample and the opening angle of the microscope objective, the achievable resolution is limited to around 200 nm. This so-called classical diffraction limit implies that smaller structural features cannot be resolved or separated from each other. As many food structures are ultimately defined by the molecular interactions of single proteins or single molecules, the classical resolution is insufficient to reveal structural details in the (tens of) nanometer range. Intriguingly, recent advancements in imaging techniques originating mostly in the (biomedical) life sciences have been closing the gap, pushing the resolution towards true molecular resolution. In this perspective, we want to highlight some of these emerging techniques and provide an outlook on potential future applications.
In single-molecule localization microscopy (SMLM), the use of engineered point spread functions (PSFs) provides access to three-dimensional localization information. The conventional approach of fitting PSFs with a single 2-dimensional Gaussian profile, however, often falls short in analyzing complex PSFs created by placing phase masks, deformable mirrors or spatial light modulators in the optical detection pathway. Here, we describe the integration of PSF modalities known as double-helix, saddle-point or tetra-pod into the phasor-based SMLM (pSMLM) framework enabling fast CPU based localization of single-molecule emitters with sub- pixel accuracy in three dimensions. For the double-helix PSF, pSMLM identifies the two individual lobes and uses their relative rotation for obtaining z-resolved localizations. For the analysis of saddle-point or tetra-pod PSFs, we present a novel phasor-based deconvolution approach entitled circular-tangent pSMLM. Saddle-point PSFs were experimentally realized by placing a deformable mirror in the Fourier plane and modulating the incoming wavefront with specific Zernike modes. Our pSMLM software package delivers similar precision and recall rates to the best-in-class software package (SMAP) at signal-to-noise ratios typical for organic fluorophores and achieves localization rates of up to 15 kHz (double-helix) and 250 kHz (saddle-point/tetra-pod) on a standard CPU. We further integrated pSMLM into an existing software package (SMALL-LABS) suitable for single-particle imaging and tracking in environments with obscuring backgrounds. Taken together, we provide a powerful hardware and software environment for advanced single-molecule studies.
Single-molecule fluorescence detection offers powerful ways to study biomolecules and their complex interactions. Here, nanofluidic devices and camera-based, single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (smFRET) detection are combined to study the interactions between plant transcription factors of the auxin response factor (ARF) family and DNA oligonucleotides that contain target DNA response elements. In particular, it is shown that the binding of the unlabeled ARF DNA binding domain (ARF-DBD) to donor and acceptor labeled DNA oligonucleotides can be detected by changes in the FRET efficiency and changes in the diffusion coefficient of the DNA. In addition, this data on fluorescently labeled ARF-DBDs suggest that, at nanomolar concentrations, ARF-DBDs are exclusively present as monomers. In general, the fluidic framework of freely diffusing molecules minimizes potential surface-induced artifacts, enables high-throughput measurements, and proved to be instrumental in shedding more light on the interactions between ARF-DBDs monomers and between ARF-DBDs and their DNA response element
Lipid oxidation in food emulsions is mediated by emulsifiers in the water phase and at the oil-water interface. To unravel the physico-chemical mechanisms and to obtain local lipid and protein oxidation rates, we used confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), thereby monitoring changes in both the fluorescence emission of a lipophilic dye BODIPY 665/676 and protein auto-fluorescence. Our data show that the removal of lipid-soluble antioxidants from mayonnaises promotes lipid oxidation within oil droplets as well as protein oxidation at the oil-water interface. Furthermore, we demonstrate that ascorbic acid acts as either a lipid antioxidant or pro-oxidant depending on the presence of lipid-soluble antioxidants. The effects of antioxidant formulation on local lipid and protein oxidation rates were all statistically significant (p < 0.0001). The observed protein oxidation at the oil-water interface was spatially heterogeneous, which is in line with the heterogeneous distribution of lipoprotein granules from the egg yolk used for emulsification. The impact of the droplet size on local lipid and protein oxidation rates was significant (p < 0.0001) but minor compared to the effects of ascorbic acid addition and lipid-soluble antioxidant depletion. The presented results demonstrate that CLSM can be applied for unraveling the roles of colloidal structure and transport in mediating lipid oxidation in complex food emulsions.
Single-particle tracking is an important technique in the life sciences to understand the kinetics of biomolecules. The analysis of apparent diffusion coefficients in vivo, for example, enables researchers to determine whether biomolecules are moving alone, as part of a larger complex, or are bound to large cellular components such as the membrane or chromosomal DNA. A remaining challenge has been to retrieve quantitative kinetic models, especially for molecules that rapidly switch between different diffusional states. Here, we present analytical diffusion distribution analysis (anaDDA), a framework that allows for extracting transition rates from distributions of apparent diffusion coefficients calculated from short trajectories that feature less than 10 localizations per track. Under the assumption that the system is Markovian and diffusion is purely Brownian, we show that theoretically predicted distributions accurately match simulated distributions and that anaDDA outperforms existing methods to retrieve kinetics, especially in the fast regime of 0.1–10 transitions per imaging frame. AnaDDA does account for the effects of confinement and tracking window boundaries. Furthermore, we added the option to perform global fitting of data acquired at different frame times to allow complex models with multiple states to be fitted confidently. Previously, we have started to develop anaDDA to investigate the target search of CRISPR-Cas complexes. In this work, we have optimized the algorithms and reanalyzed experimental data of DNA polymerase I diffusing in live Escherichia coli. We found that long-lived DNA interaction by DNA polymerase are more abundant upon DNA damage, suggesting roles in DNA repair. We further revealed and quantified fast DNA probing interactions that last shorter than 10 ms. AnaDDA pushes the boundaries of the timescale of interactions that can be probed with single-particle tracking and is a mathematically rigorous framework that can be further expanded to extract detailed information about the behavior of biomolecules in living cells.
The hormone auxin controls many aspects of the plant life cycle by regulating the expression of thousands of genes. The transcriptional output of the nuclear auxin signaling pathway is determined by the activity of AUXIN RESPONSE transcription FACTORs (ARFs), through their binding to cis-regulatory elements in auxin-responsive genes. Crystal structures, in vitro, and heterologous studies have fueled a model in which ARF dimers bind with high affinity to distinctly spaced repeats of canonical AuxRE motifs. However, the relevance of this “caliper” model, and the mechanisms underlying the binding affinities in vivo, have remained elusive. Here we biochemically and functionally interrogate modes of ARF–DNA interaction. We show that a single additional hydrogen bond in Arabidopsis ARF1 confers high-affinity binding to individual DNA sites. We demonstrate the importance of AuxRE cooperativity within repeats in the Arabidopsis TMO5 and IAA11 promoters in vivo. Meta-analysis of transcriptomes further reveals strong genome-wide association of auxin response with both inverted (IR) and direct (DR) AuxRE repeats, which we experimentally validated. The association of these elements with auxin-induced up-regulation (DR and IR) or down-regulation (IR) was correlated with differential binding affinities of A-class and B-class ARFs, respectively, suggesting a mechanistic basis for the distinct activity of these repeats. Our results support the relevance of high-affinity binding of ARF transcription factors to uniquely spaced DNA elements in vivo, and suggest that differential binding affinities of ARF subfamilies underlie diversity in cis-element function.