To get a clear three-dimensional feel of this interactive world, all one would need is a pair of goggles. But when the environment you want to observe is at subcellular-cellular lengths of scale, you’ve got to get creative.
Research between Rice University investigators Michael Diehl and Amina Qutub is combining enhanced immuno-fluorescence microscopy techniques with multiscale computational models of cell development to explore intracellular dynamics, and to link behavior to broader cell-network activities.
“A cell’s cytoskeletal structure supports its shape, guides the transport of components and the exchange of information. More research is needed to understand the interrelationships between genes, proteins and the biochemically inspired communications from within a cell to its surrounding neighbors that support phenotypic change,” said Qutub, an assistant professor of bioengineering.
Recent investigations from the Diehl lab have led to the development of dynamic DNA complexes that function as programmable molecular-imaging devices for multicolor molecular imaging analyses aimed at profiling the spatially-dependent organization of protein pathways in cells. Details of the new imaging technique were published in the Aug. 15 English edition of Angewandte Chemie.
Diehl, an assistant professor in bioengineering and in chemistry, explains that the investigations have great potential to support systems and synthetic biology approaches to understanding how cells communicate as they self-organize and respond to change.
“These approaches naturally require detailed analyses of how multiple molecular pathway components are distributed in cells, especially when examining how cells are arranged into complex multi-cellular systems,” said Diehl. “Many aspects of cell pathway responses cannot be characterized in these circumstances if protein states are inspected using different samples.”
To construct their DNA complexes, Diehl, graduate student Dzifa Duose, and lead author on the paper and former graduate student Ryan Schweller, used a technique called strand displacement to generate erasable imaging probes that allow the same biological samples to be stained and imaged multiple times.