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Tracking single molecules and vesicles in cells

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Challenge

Understanding the dynamics, trajectories and interactions of single molecules and vesicles in cells presents a fundamental challenge in cell biology. An instrument that is fast enough to record these processes and has analysis that is simple to navigate is critical. With tracking it is possible to study the dynamics of the plasma membrane, of transcription, of protein-protein interactions and also the influence of external factors such as drugs on these mechanisms.

Solution with nanoimager

The Nanoimager offers a complete solution for tracking single molecules and vesicles. The option to heat the microscope to 37 °C allows live-cell imaging and the simultaneous two color acquisition offers the incredible possibility to localize and track two different types of molecule or vesicle at the same time. The software provides dedicated tracking analysis, automatically detecting either molecules or vesicles and tracking them over time. The diffusion coefficients and measurements of the size and number of particles (for tracked particles in solution) is summarized instantly, for single or groups of tracks, with the option to export results in a convenient csv format.

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Case study

We can understand the dynamics, trajectories and interaction of single molecules and vesicles in cells. This video shows TRP channel proteins tagged with mCherry and expressed in HEK cells. They are transported to the plasma membrane in vesicles, which are visible as the highly dynamic bright fluorescent spots moving throughout the cells. In the image below, the trajectories followed by the vesicles were mapped out using Nanoimager tracking software.