In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (74)

Articles by Paul M. W. French in JoVE

 JoVE Biology

Open Source High Content Analysis Utilizing Automated Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy

1Photonics Group, Department of Physics, Imperial College London, 2Institute for Chemical Biology, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London, 3MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Hammersmith Hospital, 4Chemical Biology Section, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London, 5Retroscreen Virology Ltd, 6Pfizer Global Research and Development, Pfizer Limited, Sandwich, Kent, UK, 7Centre for Histopathology, Imperial College London

JoVE 55119

Other articles by Paul M. W. French on PubMed

Imaging Immune Surveillance by T Cells and NK Cells

Immunological Reviews. Nov, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12445274

As T cells and natural killer (NK) cells survey the surface of other cells, cognate receptors and ligands are commonly organized into distinct micrometer-scale domains at the intercellular contact, creating an immune or immunological synapse (IS). We aim to address the still unanswered questions of how this organization of proteins aids immune surveillance and how these domains are biophysically constructed. Molecular mechanisms for the formation of the IS include a role for the cytoskeleton, segregation of proteins according to the size of their extracellular domains, and association of proteins with lipid rafts. Towards understanding the function of the IS, it is instructive to compare and contrast the supramolecular organization of proteins at the inhibitory and activating NK cell IS with that at the activating T cell IS. Finally, it is essential to develop new technologies for probing molecular recognition at cell surfaces. Imaging parameters other than fluorescence intensity, such as the lifetime of the fluorophore's excited state, could be used to report on protein environments.

Imaging the Environment of Green Fluorescent Protein

Biophysical Journal. Dec, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12496126

An emerging theme in cell biology is that cell surface receptors need to be considered as part of supramolecular complexes of proteins and lipids facilitating specific receptor conformations and distinct distributions, e.g., at the immunological synapse. Thus, a new goal is to develop bioimaging that not only locates proteins in live cells but can also probe their environment. Such a technique is demonstrated here using fluorescence lifetime imaging of green fluorescent protein (GFP). We first show, by time-correlated single-photon counting, that the fluorescence decay of GFP depends on the local refractive index. This is in agreement with the Strickler Berg formula, relating the Einstein A and B coefficients for absorption and spontaneous emission in molecules. We then quantitatively image, by wide-field time-gated fluorescence lifetime imaging, the refractive index of the environment of GFP. This novel approach paves the way for imaging the biophysical environment of specific GFP-tagged proteins in live cells.

Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging of Unstained Tissues: Early Results in Human Breast Cancer

The Journal of Pathology. Mar, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12579532

Fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) depends on the fluorescence decay differences between tissues to generate image contrast. In the present study FLIM has been applied to fixed (but unstained) breast cancer tissues to demonstrate the feasibility of this approach for histopathological assessment. As the FLIM method relies on natural autofluorescence, it may be possible to circumvent tissue processing altogether and so FLIM has the potential to be a powerful new method of in vivo tissue imaging via an endoscopic or per-operative approach in a variety of organs, as well as a research tool for in vivo animal models of disease. Unstained, alcohol-fixed tissue samples from 13 patients were stimulated by laser pulses at 415 nm. The temporal decay of the autofluorescence was imaged over a period of 2 ns after cessation of the pulse. The decay rate at each image pixel was calculated as the 'lifetime' factor tau. A tissue classification scheme was used to define regions in each image. The average lifetimes of different tissue regions were compared. A total of 167 tissue regions were measured. Within individual fields, stroma had a larger tau (slower decay) than epithelium (p < 0.001). Within individual patients (taking the mean tau of a given tissue type across all fields from each patient), there was a statistically significant difference between benign and malignancy-associated stroma (p < 0.05). Also, benign collagen had a longer tau than benign epithelium (p < 0.05). Multivariate analysis showed a significant difference between benign stroma, malignancy-associated stroma, blood vessels, and malignant epithelium (p < 0.05). Statistically significant differences between benign and malignancy-associated stroma were obtained even with small patient numbers, indicating that lifetime-based instruments can be developed for real-time diagnostic imaging with microscopic resolution.

Studying Biological Tissue with Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging: Microscopy, Endoscopy, and Complex Decay Profiles

Applied Optics. Jun, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12790450

We have applied fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) to the autofluorescence of different kinds of biological tissue in vitro, including animal tissue sections and knee joints as well as human teeth, obtaining two-dimensional maps with functional contrast. We find that fluorescence decay profiles of biological tissue are well described by the stretched exponential function (StrEF), which can represent the complex nature of tissue. The StrEF yields a continuous distribution of fluorescence lifetimes, which can be extracted with an inverse Laplace transformation, and additional information is provided by the width of the distribution. Our experimental results from FLIM microscopy in combination with the StrEF analysis indicate that this technique is ready for clinical deployment, including portability that is through the use of a compact picosecond diode laser as the excitation source. The results obtained with our FLIM endoscope successfully demonstrated the viability of this modality, though they need further optimization. We expect a custom-designed endoscope with optimized illumination and detection efficiencies to provide significantly improved performance.

Time-resolved Fluorescence Anisotropy Imaging Applied to Live Cells

Optics Letters. Mar, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15035478

We have developed a wide-field time-resolved imaging system to image quantitatively both the fluorescence lifetime and the rotational correlation time of a fluorophore. Using a polarization-resolved imager, we simultaneously image orthogonal polarization components of the fluorescence emission onto a time-gated intensified CCD. We demonstrate imaging of solvent viscosity variations through the rotational correlation time of fluorescein in a multiwell plate and apply this technique to probe the microviscosity in live cells.

Holographic Optical Coherence Imaging of Rat Osteogenic Sarcoma Tumor Spheroids

Applied Optics. Sep, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15449473

Holographic optical coherence imaging is a full-frame variant of coherence-domain imaging. An optoelectronic semiconductor holographic film functions as a coherence filter placed before a conventional digital video camera that passes coherent (structure-bearing) light to the camera during holographic readout while preferentially rejecting scattered light. The data are acquired as a succession of en face images at increasing depth inside the sample in a fly-through acquisition. The samples of living tissue were rat osteogenic sarcoma multicellular tumor spheroids that were grown from a single osteoblast cell line in a bioreactor. Tumor spheroids are nearly spherical and have radial symmetry, presenting a simple geometry for analysis. The tumors investigated ranged in diameter from several hundred micrometers to over 1 mm. Holographic features from the tumors were observed in reflection to depths of 500-600 microm with a total tissue path length of approximately 14 mean free paths. The volumetric data from the tumor spheroids reveal heterogeneous structure, presumably caused by necrosis and microcalcifications characteristic of some human avascular tumors.

Fluorescence Imaging of Two-photon Linear Dichroism: Cholesterol Depletion Disrupts Molecular Orientation in Cell Membranes

Biophysical Journal. Jan, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 15520272

The plasma membrane of cells is an ordered environment, giving rise to anisotropic orientation and restricted motion of molecules and proteins residing in the membrane. At the same time as being an organized matrix of defined structure, the cell membrane is heterogeneous and dynamic. Here we present a method where we use fluorescence imaging of linear dichroism to measure the orientation of molecules relative to the cell membrane. By detecting linear dichroism as well as fluorescence anisotropy, the orientation parameters are separated from dynamic properties such as rotational diffusion and homo energy transfer (energy migration). The sensitivity of the technique is enhanced by using two-photon excitation for higher photo-selection compared to single photon excitation. We show here that we can accurately image lipid organization in whole cell membranes and in delicate structures such as membrane nanotubes connecting two cells. The speed of our wide-field imaging system makes it possible to image changes in orientation and anisotropy occurring on a subsecond timescale. This is demonstrated by time-lapse studies showing that cholesterol depletion rapidly disrupts the orientation of a fluorophore located within the hydrophobic region of the cell membrane but not of a surface bound probe. This is consistent with cholesterol having an important role in stabilizing and ordering the lipid tails within the plasma membrane.

Time-resolved Fluorescence Microscopy

Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences : Official Journal of the European Photochemistry Association and the European Society for Photobiology. Jan, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 15616687

In fluorescence microscopy, the fluorescence emission can be characterised not only by intensity and position, but also by lifetime, polarization and wavelength. Fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) can report on photophysical events that are difficult or impossible to observe by fluorescence intensity imaging, and time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy imaging (TR-FAIM) can measure the rotational mobility of a fluorophore in its environment. We compare different FLIM methods: a chief advantage of wide-field time-gating and phase modulation methods is the speed of acquisition whereas for time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) based confocal scanning it is accuracy in the fluorescence decay. FLIM has been used to image interactions between proteins such as receptor oligomerisation and to reveal protein phosphorylation by detecting fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). In addition, FLIM can also probe the local environment of fluorophores, reporting, for example, on the local pH, refractive index, ion or oxygen concentration without the need for ratiometric measurements.

Quantitative 3D Mapping of Fluidic Temperatures Within Microchannel Networks Using Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging

Analytical Chemistry. Apr, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16579608

We describe a novel method for quantitatively mapping fluidic temperature with high spatial resolution within microchannels using fluorescence lifetime imaging in an optically sectioning microscope. Unlike intensity-based measurements, this approach is independent of experimental parameters, such as dye concentration and excitation/detection efficiency, thereby facilitating quantitative temperature mapping. Micrometer spatial resolution of 3D temperature distributions is readily achieved with an optical sectioning approach based on two-photon excitation. We demonstrate this technique for mapping of temperature variations across a microfluidic chip under different heating profiles and for mapping of the 3D temperature distribution across a single microchannel under applied flow conditions. This technique allows optimization of the chip design for miniaturized processes, such as on-chip PCR, for which precise temperature control is important.

Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Provides Enhanced Contrast when Imaging the Phase-sensitive Dye Di-4-ANEPPDHQ in Model Membranes and Live Cells

Biophysical Journal. Jun, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16617080

We apply fluorescence lifetime imaging to the membrane phase-sensing dye di-4-ANEPPDHQ in model membranes and live cells. We show that the 1700 ps lifetime shift between liquid-disordered and liquid-ordered phases offers greater contrast than the 60 nm spectral shift previously reported. Detection of cholesterol-rich membrane microdomains is confirmed by observation of the temperature dependence of membrane order and by cholesterol depletion using methyl-beta-cyclodextrin.

Microclusters of Inhibitory Killer Immunoglobulin-like Receptor Signaling at Natural Killer Cell Immunological Synapses

The Journal of Cell Biology. Jul, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16801390

We report the supramolecular organization of killer Ig-like receptor (KIR) phosphorylation using a technique applicable to imaging phosphorylation of any green fluorescent protein-tagged receptor at an intercellular contact or immune synapse. Specifically, we use fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) to report Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) between GFP-tagged KIR2DL1 and a Cy3-tagged generic anti-phosphotyrosine monoclonal antibody. Visualization of KIR phosphorylation in natural killer (NK) cells contacting target cells expressing cognate major histocompatibility complex class I proteins revealed that inhibitory signaling is spatially restricted to the immune synapse. This explains how NK cells respond appropriately when simultaneously surveying susceptible and resistant target cells. More surprising, phosphorylated KIR was confined to microclusters within the aggregate of KIR, contrary to an expected homogeneous distribution of KIR signaling across the immune synapse. Also, yellow fluorescent protein-tagged Lck, a kinase important for KIR phosphorylation, accumulated in a multifocal distribution at inhibitory synapses. Spatial confinement of receptor phosphorylation within the immune synapse may be critical to how activating and inhibitory signals are integrated in NK cells.

Structurally Distinct Membrane Nanotubes Between Human Macrophages Support Long-distance Vesicular Traffic or Surfing of Bacteria

Journal of Immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). Dec, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 17142745

We report that two classes of membrane nanotubes between human monocyte-derived macrophages can be distinguished by their cytoskeletal structure and their functional properties. Thin membrane nanotubes contained only F-actin, whereas thicker nanotubes, i.e., those > approximately 0.7 microm in diameter, contained both F-actin and microtubules. Bacteria could be trapped and surf along thin, but not thick, membrane nanotubes toward connected macrophage cell bodies. Once at the cell body, bacteria could then be phagocytosed. The movement of bacteria is aided by a constitutive flow of the nanotube surface because streptavidin-coated beads were similarly able to traffic along nanotubes between surface-biotinylated macrophages. Mitochondria and intracellular vesicles, including late endosomes and lysosomes, could be detected within thick, but not thin, membrane nanotubes. Analysis from kymographs demonstrated that vesicles moved in a stepwise, bidirectional manner at approximately 1 microm/s, consistent with their traffic being mediated by the microtubules found only in thick nanotubes. Vesicular traffic in thick nanotubes and surfing of beads along thin nanotubes were both stopped upon the addition of azide, demonstrating that both processes require ATP. However, microtubule destabilizing agents colchicine or nocodazole abrogated vesicular transport but not the flow of the nanotube surface, confirming that distinct cytoskeletal structures of nanotubes give rise to different functional properties. Thus, membrane nanotubes between macrophages are more complex than unvarying ubiquitous membrane tethers and facilitate several means for distal interactions between immune cells.

Tissue Characterization Using Dimensionality Reduction and Fluorescence Imaging

Medical Image Computing and Computer-assisted Intervention : MICCAI ... International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention. 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 17354820

Multidimensional fluorescence imaging is a powerful molecular imaging modality that is emerging as an important tool in the study of biological tissues. Due to the large volume of multi-spectral data associated with the technique, it is often difficult to find the best combination of parameters to maximize the contrast between different tissue types. This paper presents a novel framework for the characterization of tissue compositions based on the use of time resolved fluorescence imaging without the explicit modeling of the decays. The composition is characterized through soft clustering based on manifold embedding for reducing the dimensionality of the datasets and obtaining a consistent differentiation scheme for determining intrinsic constituents of the tissue. The proposed technique has the benefit of being fully automatic, which could have significant advantages for automated histopathology and increasing the speed of intraoperative decisions. Validation of the technique is carried out with both phantom data and tissue samples of the human pancreas.

Rapid Hyperspectral Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging

Microscopy Research and Technique. May, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17366615

We report a rapid hyperspectral fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) instrument that exploits high-speed FLIM technology in a line-scanning microscope. We demonstrate the acquisition of whole-field optically sectioned hyperspectral fluorescence lifetime image stacks (with 32 spectral bins) in less than 40 s and illustrate its application to unstained biological tissue.

Fluorescence-lifetime Imaging of DNA-dye Interactions Within Continuous-flow Microfluidic Systems

Angewandte Chemie (International Ed. in English). 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17436333

Optical Techniques for Imaging Membrane Lipid Microdomains in Living Cells

Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology. Oct, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17728161

Lateral organisation of cellular membranes, particularly the plasma membrane, is of benefit to the cell as it allows complicated cellular processes to be regulated and efficient. For example, trafficking and secretion of molecules can be targeted and directed, cells polarised and signalling events modulated and propagated. The fluid mosaic model allows for significant heterogeneity on the part of the lipids themselves and of membrane associated proteins. By exploiting the tendency of complex lipid bilayers to undergo spontaneous or induced phase-separation into non-miscible domains, the cell could achieve this desired spatial organisation. While phase-separation is readily observed in simple, artificial bilayers, its occurrence in physiological membranes remains controversial. This stems mainly from our inability to image lipid microdomains directly - possibly due to their small size, short lifespan and/or morphological similarity to the bulk membrane. In this review, we seek to examine the techniques used to try to image membrane lipid microdomains, concentrating mainly on optical microscopy techniques that are applicable to live cells. We also look at novel emerging instruments and methods that promise to overcome our current technological limitations and shed new light on these important structures.

Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging by Using Time-gated Data Acquisition

Applied Optics. Oct, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17952172

The use of the time gating technique for lifetime reconstruction in the Fourier domain is a novel technique. Time gating provides sufficient data points in the time domain for reliable application of the Fourier transform, which is essential for the time deconvolution of the system of the integral equations employed in the reconstruction. The Fourier domain telegraph equation is employed to model the light transport, which allows a sufficiently broad interval of frequencies to be covered. Reconstructed images contain enough information needed for recovering the lifetime distribution in a sample for any given frequency within the megahertz-gigahertz band. The use of this technique is essential for recovering time-dependent information in fluorescence imaging. This technique was applied in reconstruction of the lifetime distribution of four tubes filled with Rhodamine 6G embedded inside a highly scattering slab. Relatively accurate fluorescence lifetime reconstruction demonstrates the effectiveness and the potential of the proposed technique.

Excitation-resolved Hyperspectral Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Using a UV-extended Supercontinuum Source

Optics Letters. Dec, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 18059949

We present a time-gated, optically sectioned, hyperspectral fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) microscope incorporating a tunable supercontinuum excitation source extending into the UV. The system is capable of resolving the excitation spectrum, emission spectrum, and fluorescence decays in an optically sectioned image.

Stimulated Emission Depletion Microscopy with a Supercontinuum Source and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging

Optics Letters. Jan, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18197209

We demonstrate stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy implemented in a laser scanning confocal microscope using excitation light derived from supercontinuum generation in a microstructured optical fiber. Images with resolution improvement beyond the far-field diffraction limit in both the lateral and axial directions were acquired by scanning overlapped excitation and depletion beams in two dimensions using the flying spot scanner of a commercially available laser scanning confocal microscope. The spatial properties of the depletion beam were controlled holographically using a programmable spatial light modulator, which can rapidly change between different STED imaging modes and also compensate for aberrations in the optical path. STED fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy is demonstrated through the use of time-correlated single photon counting.

Improved Sectioning in a Slit Scanning Confocal Microscope

Optics Letters. Aug, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18709096

We describe a simple implementation of a slit scanning confocal microscope to obtain an axial resolution better than that of a point-scanning confocal microscope. Under slit illumination, images of a fluorescent object are captured using an array detector instead of a line detector so that out-of-focus light is recorded and then subtracted from the adjacent images. Axial resolution after background subtraction is 2.2 times better than the slit confocal resolution, and out-of-focus image suppression is calculated to attenuate with defocus faster by 1 order of magnitude than in the point confocal case.

Three-dimensional Molecular Mapping in a Microfluidic Mixing Device Using Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging

Optics Letters. Aug, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18709122

Fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) is used to quantitatively map the concentration of a small molecule in three dimensions in a microfluidic mixing device. The resulting experimental data are compared with computational fluid-dynamics (CFD) simulations. A line-scanning semiconfocal FLIM microscope allows the full mixing profile to be imaged in a single scan with submicrometer resolution over an arbitrary channel length from the point of confluence. Following experimental and CFD optimization, mixing times down to 1.3+/-0.4 ms were achieved with the single-layer microfluidic device.

High-speed High-resolution Imaging of Intercellular Immune Synapses Using Optical Tweezers

Biophysical Journal. Nov, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18723590

Imaging in any plane other than horizontal in a microscope typically requires a reconstruction from multiple optical slices that significantly decreases the spatial and temporal resolution that can be achieved. This can limit the precision with which molecular events can be detected, for example, at intercellular contacts. This has been a major issue for the imaging of immune synapses between live cells, which has generally required the reconstruction of en face intercellular synapses, yielding spatial resolution significantly above the diffraction limit and updating at only a few frames per minute. Strategies to address this issue have usually involved using artificial activating substrates such as antibody-coated slides or supported planar lipid bilayers, but synapses with these surrogate stimuli may not wholly resemble immune synapses between two cells. Here, we combine optical tweezers and confocal microscopy to realize generally applicable, high-speed, high-resolution imaging of almost any arbitrary plane of interest. Applied to imaging immune synapses in live-cell conjugates, this has enabled the characterization of complex behavior of highly dynamic clusters of T cell receptors at the T cell/antigen-presenting cell intercellular immune synapse and revealed the presence of numerous, highly dynamic long receptor-rich filopodial structures within inhibitory Natural Killer cell immune synapses.

Multiplexed FRET to Image Multiple Signaling Events in Live Cells

Biophysical Journal. Nov, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18757561

We report what to our knowledge is a novel approach for simultaneous imaging of two different Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensors in the same cell with minimal spectral cross talk. Previous methods based on spectral ratiometric imaging of the two FRET sensors have been limited by the availability of suitably bright acceptors for the second FRET pair and the spectral cross talk incurred when measuring in four spectral windows. In contrast to spectral ratiometric imaging, fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) requires measurement of the donor fluorescence only and is independent of emission from the acceptor. By combining FLIM-FRET of the novel red-shifted TagRFP/mPlum FRET pair with spectral ratiometric imaging of an ECFP/Venus pair we were thus able to maximize the spectral separation between our chosen fluorophores while at the same time overcoming the low quantum yield of the far red acceptor mPlum. Using this technique, we could read out a TagRFP/mPlum intermolecular FRET sensor for reporting on small Ras GTP-ase activation in live cells after epidermal growth factor stimulation and an ECFP/Venus Cameleon FRET sensor for monitoring calcium transients within the same cells. The combination of spectral ratiometric imaging of ECFP/Venus and high-speed FLIM-FRET of TagRFP/mPlum can thus increase the spectral bandwidth available and provide robust imaging of multiple FRET sensors within the same cell. Furthermore, since FLIM does not require equal stoichiometries of donor and acceptor, this approach can be used to report on both unimolecular FRET biosensors and protein-protein interactions with the same cell.

Fluorescence Lifetime Optical Projection Tomography

Journal of Biophotonics. Oct, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 19343662

We describe a quantitative fluorescence projection tomography technique which measures the 3-D fluorescence lifetime distribution in optically cleared specimens up 1 cm in diameter. This is achieved by acquiring a series of wide-field time-gated images at different relative time delays with respect to a train of excitation pulses, at a number of projection angles. For each time delay, the 3-D time-gated intensity distribution is reconstructed using a filtered back projection algorithm and the fluorescence lifetime subsequently determined for each reconstructed horizontal plane by iterative fitting to a mono-exponential decay. Due to its inherently ratiometric nature, fluorescence lifetime is robust against intensity based artefacts as well as producing a quantitative measure of the fluorescence signal. We present a 3-D fluorescence lifetime reconstruction of a mouse embryo labelled with an alexa-488 conjugated antibody targeted to the neurofilament, which clearly differentiates between the extrinsic label and the autofluorescence, particularly from the heart and dorsal aorta.

A Compact, Multidimensional Spectrofluorometer Exploiting Supercontinuum Generation

Journal of Biophotonics. Dec, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 19343675

We report a novel, compact and automated multidimensional spectrofluorometer that exploits a fibre-laser-pumped ultrafast supercontinuum source to provide resolution with respect to intensity, excitation and emission wavelength, decay time and polarisation. This instrument has been applied to study the photophysics of the phase-sensitive membrane probe di-4-ANEPPDHQ and to characterise protein-protein interactions via Förster resonance energy transfer. It can be applied to in situ measurements via a fibre-optic probe in medical and other contexts and is demonstrated here to provide a comprehensive characterisation of tissue autofluorescence.

High Speed Unsupervised Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Confocal Multiwell Plate Reader for High Content Analysis

Journal of Biophotonics. Dec, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 19343677

We report an automated optically sectioning fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) multiwell plate reader for high content analysis (HCA) in drug discovery and accelerated research in cell biology. The system utilizes a Nipkow disc confocal microscope and performs unsupervised FLIM with autofocus, automatic setting of acquisition parameters and automated localisation of cells in the field of view. We demonstrate its applications to test dye solutions, fixed and live cells and FLIM-FRET.

Continuous-flow Polymerase Chain Reaction of Single-copy DNA in Microfluidic Microdroplets

Analytical Chemistry. Jan, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19055421

We present a high throughput microfluidic device for continuous-flow polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in water-in-oil droplets of nanoliter volumes. The circular design of this device allows droplets to pass through alternating temperature zones and complete 34 cycles of PCR in only 17 min, avoiding temperature cycling of the entire device. The temperatures for the applied two-temperature PCR protocol can be adjusted according to requirements of template and primers. These temperatures were determined with fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) inside the droplets, exploiting the temperature-dependent fluorescence lifetime of rhodamine B. The successful amplification of an 85 base-pair long template from four different start concentrations was demonstrated. Analysis of the product by gel-electrophoresis, sequencing, and real-time PCR showed that the amplification is specific and the amplification factors of up to 5 x 10(6)-fold are comparable to amplification factors obtained in a benchtop PCR machine. The high efficiency allows amplification from a single molecule of DNA per droplet. This device holds promise for convenient integration with other microfluidic devices and adds a critical missing component to the laboratory-on-a-chip toolkit.

Live Cell Linear Dichroism Imaging Reveals Extensive Membrane Ruffling Within the Docking Structure of Natural Killer Cell Immune Synapses

Biophysical Journal. Jan, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19167281

We have applied fluorescence imaging of two-photon linear dichroism to measure the subresolution organization of the cell membrane during formation of the activating (cytolytic) natural killer (NK) cell immune synapse (IS). This approach revealed that the NK cell plasma membrane is convoluted into ruffles at the periphery, but not in the center of a mature cytolytic NK cell IS. Time-lapse imaging showed that the membrane ruffles formed at the initial point of contact between NK cells and target cells and then spread radialy across the intercellular contact as the size of the IS increased, becoming absent from the center of the mature synapse. Understanding the role of such extensive membrane ruffling in the assembly of cytolytic synapses is an intriguing new goal.

Three-dimensional Imaging of Förster Resonance Energy Transfer in Heterogeneous Turbid Media by Tomographic Fluorescent Lifetime Imaging

Optics Letters. Sep, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19756100

We report a three-dimensional time-resolved tomographic imaging technique for localizing protein-protein interaction and protein conformational changes in turbid media based on Förster resonant energy-transfer read out using fluorescence lifetime. This application of "tomoFRET" employs an inverse scattering algorithm utilizing the diffusion approximation to the radiative-transfer equation applied to a large tomographic data set of time-gated images. The approach is demonstrated by imaging a highly scattering cylindrical phantom within which are two thin wells containing cytosol preparations of HEK293 cells expressing TN-L15, a cytosolic genetically encoded calcium Förster resonant energy-transfer sensor. A 10 mM calcium chloride solution was added to one of the wells, inducing a protein conformation change upon binding to TN-L15, resulting in Förster resonant energy transfer and a corresponding decrease in the donor fluorescence lifetime. We successfully reconstruct spatially resolved maps of the resulting fluorescence lifetime distribution as well as of the quantum efficiency, absorption, and scattering coefficients.

A Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Scanning Confocal Endomicroscope

Journal of Biophotonics. Jan, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 19787682

We describe a fluorescence lifetime imaging endomicroscope employing a fibre bundle probe and time correlated single photon counting. Preliminary images of stained pollen grains, eGFP-labelled cells exhibiting Förster resonant energy transfer and tissue autofluorescence are presented.

Dynamics of Subsynaptic Vesicles and Surface Microclusters at the Immunological Synapse

Science Signaling. 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20460647

Imaging studies have identified clusters of kinases and adaptor proteins that serve as centers of signaling at the contact points between T cells and antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Here, we report that the kinase ZAP-70 and the adaptor proteins LAT and SLP-76 accumulated in separate clusters at the interface between T cells and coverslips coated with a stimulatory antibody against CD3, a component of the T cell antigen receptor complex. A fraction of LAT was detected in motile vesicles that repeatedly moved to surface microclusters of SLP-76 and the adaptor protein GADS (growth factor receptor-bound protein-related adaptor downstream of Shc), where they exhibited decreased motility. LAT molecules in which the residues tyrosine 171 and tyrosine 191 (which are required for the binding of LAT to GADS) were mutated to phenylalanine did not dwell at clusters of SLP-76. At immunological synapses, LAT-containing vesicles also colocalized with microclusters of SLP-76, as detected in experiments in which laser tweezers were used to position T cell-APC conjugates vertically for high-resolution imaging. Phosphorylation of LAT was most prominent when vesicular LAT colocalized with SLP-76. Indeed, the abundance of phosphorylated LAT within a microcluster of SLP-76 was greatest in those clusters that had more recent interactions with LAT-containing vesicles. Finally, negative signals by the inhibitory receptor ILT2 disrupted the assembly of SLP-76-containing microclusters. Together, these data show that the movement of LAT-containing vesicles is linked to the organization of protein microclusters and suggest an important role for vesicular LAT in the SLP-76 signalosome.

High Plasma Membrane Lipid Order Imaged at the Immunological Synapse Periphery in Live T Cells

Molecular Membrane Biology. Aug, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20540668

Cholesterol- and glycosphingolipid-enriched membrane lipid microdomains, frequently called lipid rafts, are thought to play an important role in the spatial and temporal organization of immunological synapses. Higher ordering of lipid acyl chains was suggested for these entities and imaging of membrane order in living cells during activation can therefore help to understand the mechanisms responsible for the supramolecular organization of molecules involved in the activation of T cells. Here, we employ the phase-sensitive membrane dye di-4-ANEPPDHQ together with a variety of spectrally-resolved microscopy techniques, including 2-channel ratiometric TIRF microscopy and fluorescence lifetime imaging, to characterize membrane order at the T cell immunological synapse at high spatial and temporal resolution in live cells at physiological temperature. We find that higher membrane order resides at the immunological synapse periphery where proximal signalling through the immunoreceptors and accessory proteins in microclusters has previously been shown to take place. The observed spatial patterning of membrane order in the immunological synapse depends on active receptor signalling.

Wide-field Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging of Cancer

Biomedical Optics Express. Aug, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 21258496

Optical imaging of tissue autofluorescence has the potential to provide rapid label-free screening and detection of surface tumors for clinical applications, including when combined with endoscopy. Quantitative imaging of intensity-based contrast is notoriously difficult and spectrally resolved imaging does not always provide sufficient contrast. We demonstrate that fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) applied to intrinsic tissue autofluorescence can directly contrast a range of surface tissue tumors, including in gastrointestinal tissues, using compact, clinically deployable instrumentation achieving wide-field fluorescence lifetime images of unprecedented clarity. Statistically significant contrast is observed between cancerous and healthy colon tissue for FLIM with excitation at 355 nm. To illustrate the clinical potential, wide-field fluorescence lifetime images of unstained ex vivo tissue have been acquired at near video rate, which is an important step towards real-time FLIM for diagnostic and interoperative imaging, including for screening and image-guided biopsy applications.

Differential Modes of DNA Binding by Mismatch Uracil DNA Glycosylase from Escherichia Coli: Implications for Abasic Lesion Processing and Enzyme Communication in the Base Excision Repair Pathway

Nucleic Acids Research. Apr, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21112870

Mismatch uracil DNA glycosylase (Mug) from Escherichia coli is an initiating enzyme in the base-excision repair pathway. As with other DNA glycosylases, the abasic product is potentially more harmful than the initial lesion. Since Mug is known to bind its product tightly, inhibiting enzyme turnover, understanding how Mug binds DNA is of significance when considering how Mug interacts with downstream enzymes in the base-excision repair pathway. We have demonstrated differential binding modes of Mug between its substrate and abasic DNA product using both band shift and fluorescence anisotropy assays. Mug binds its product cooperatively, and a stoichiometric analysis of DNA binding, catalytic activity and salt-dependence indicates that dimer formation is of functional significance in both catalytic activity and product binding. This is the first report of cooperativity in the uracil DNA glycosylase superfamily of enzymes, and forms the basis of product inhibition in Mug. It therefore provides a new perspective on abasic site protection and the findings are discussed in the context of downstream lesion processing and enzyme communication in the base excision repair pathway.

Membrane Environment Exerts an Important Influence on Rac-mediated Activation of Phospholipase Cγ2

Molecular and Cellular Biology. Mar, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21245382

We performed analyses of the molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of phospholipase Cγ2 (PLCγ2). We identified several regions in the PLCγ-specific array, γSA, that contribute to autoinhibition in the basal state by occlusion of the catalytic domain. While the activation of PLCγ2 by Rac2 requires stable translocation to the membrane, the removal of the domains required for membrane translocation in the context of an enzyme with impaired autoinhibition generated constitutive, highly active PLC in cells. We further tested the possibility that the interaction of PLCγ2 with its activator protein Rac2 was sufficient for activation through the release of autoinhibition. However, we found that Rac2 binding in the absence of lipid surfaces was not able to activate PLCγ2. Together with other observations, these data suggest that an important consequence of Rac2 binding and translocation to the membrane is that membrane proximity, on its own or together with Rac2, has a role in the release of autoinhibition, resulting in interfacial activation.

FLIM FRET Technology for Drug Discovery: Automated Multiwell-plate High-content Analysis, Multiplexed Readouts and Application in Situ

Chemphyschem : a European Journal of Chemical Physics and Physical Chemistry. Feb, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21337485

A fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) technology platform intended to read out changes in Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) efficiency is presented for the study of protein interactions across the drug-discovery pipeline. FLIM provides a robust, inherently ratiometric imaging modality for drug discovery that could allow the same sensor constructs to be translated from automated cell-based assays through small transparent organisms such as zebrafish to mammals. To this end, an automated FLIM multiwell-plate reader is described for high content analysis of fixed and live cells, tomographic FLIM in zebrafish and FLIM FRET of live cells via confocal endomicroscopy. For cell-based assays, an exemplar application reading out protein aggregation using FLIM FRET is presented, and the potential for multiple simultaneous FLIM (FRET) readouts in microscopy is illustrated.

Adaptive Phase Compensation for Ultracompact Laser Scanning Endomicroscopy

Optics Letters. May, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21540976

We present an approach to laser scanning endomicroscopy that requires no moving parts and can be implemented with no distal scanners or optics, permitting extremely compact endoscopic probes to be developed. Our approach utilizes a spatial light modulator to correct for phase variations across a fiber imaging bundle and to encode for arbitrary wavefronts at the distal end of the fiber bundle. Thus, it is possible to realize both focusing and beam scanning at the output of the fiber bundle with no distal components. We present proof of principle results to illustrate three-dimensional scanning of the focal spot and exemplar images of a United States Air Force resolution test chart.

In Vivo Fluorescence Lifetime Optical Projection Tomography

Biomedical Optics Express. Apr, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21559145

We demonstrate the application of fluorescence lifetime optical projection tomography (FLIM-OPT) to in vivo imaging of lysC:GFP transgenic zebrafish embryos (Danio rerio). This method has been applied to unambiguously distinguish between the fluorescent protein (GFP) signal in myeloid cells from background autofluorescence based on the fluorescence lifetime. The combination of FLIM, an inherently ratiometric method, in conjunction with OPT results in a quantitative 3-D tomographic technique that could be used as a robust method for in vivo biological and pharmaceutical research, for example as a readout of Förster resonance energy transfer based interactions.

In Vivo Fluorescence Lifetime Tomography of a FRET Probe Expressed in Mouse

Biomedical Optics Express. Jul, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21750768

Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) is a powerful biological tool for reading out cell signaling processes. In vivo use of FRET is challenging because of the scattering properties of bulk tissue. By combining diffuse fluorescence tomography with fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), implemented using wide-field time-gated detection of fluorescence excited by ultrashort laser pulses in a tomographic imaging system and applying inverse scattering algorithms, we can reconstruct the three dimensional spatial localization of fluorescence quantum efficiency and lifetime. We demonstrate in vivo spatial mapping of FRET between genetically expressed fluorescent proteins in live mice read out using FLIM. Following transfection by electroporation, mouse hind leg muscles were imaged in vivo and the emission of free donor (eGFP) in the presence of free acceptor (mCherry) could be clearly distinguished from the fluorescence of the donor when directly linked to the acceptor in a tandem (eGFP-mCherry) FRET construct.

Remodelling of Cortical Actin Where Lytic Granules Dock at Natural Killer Cell Immune Synapses Revealed by Super-resolution Microscopy

PLoS Biology. Sep, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21931537

Natural Killer (NK) cells are innate immune cells that secrete lytic granules to directly kill virus-infected or transformed cells across an immune synapse. However, a major gap in understanding this process is in establishing how lytic granules pass through the mesh of cortical actin known to underlie the NK cell membrane. Research has been hampered by the resolution of conventional light microscopy, which is too low to resolve cortical actin during lytic granule secretion. Here we use two high-resolution imaging techniques to probe the synaptic organisation of NK cell receptors and filamentous (F)-actin. A combination of optical tweezers and live cell confocal microscopy reveals that microclusters of NKG2D assemble into a ring-shaped structure at the centre of intercellular synapses, where Vav1 and Grb2 also accumulate. Within this ring-shaped organisation of NK cell proteins, lytic granules accumulate for secretion. Using 3D-structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) to gain super-resolution of ~100 nm, cortical actin was detected in a central region of the NK cell synapse irrespective of whether activating or inhibitory signals dominate. Strikingly, the periodicity of the cortical actin mesh increased in specific domains at the synapse when the NK cell was activated. Two-colour super-resolution imaging revealed that lytic granules docked precisely in these domains which were also proximal to where the microtubule-organising centre (MTOC) polarised. Together, these data demonstrate that remodelling of the cortical actin mesh occurs at the central region of the cytolytic NK cell immune synapse. This is likely to occur for other types of cell secretion and also emphasises the importance of emerging super-resolution imaging technology for revealing new biology.

Application of Ultrafast Gold Luminescence to Measuring the Instrument Response Function for Multispectral Multiphoton Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging

Optics Express. Jul, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21934746

When performing multiphoton fluorescence lifetime imaging in multiple spectral emission channels, an instrument response function must be acquired in each channel if accurate measurements of complex fluorescence decays are to be performed. Although this can be achieved using the reference reconvolution technique, it is difficult to identify suitable fluorophores with a mono-exponential fluorescence decay across a broad emission spectrum. We present a solution to this problem by measuring the IRF using the ultrafast luminescence from gold nanorods. We show that ultrafast gold nanorod luminescence allows the IRF to be directly obtained in multiple spectral channels simultaneously across a wide spectral range. We validate this approach by presenting an analysis of multispectral autofluorescence FLIM data obtained from human skin ex vivo.

Quantification of Cellular Autofluorescence of Human Skin Using Multiphoton Tomography and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging in Two Spectral Detection Channels

Biomedical Optics Express. Dec, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 22162820

We explore the diagnostic potential of imaging endogenous fluorophores using two photon microscopy and fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) in human skin with two spectral detection channels. Freshly excised benign dysplastic nevi (DN) and malignant nodular Basal Cell Carcinomas (nBCCs) were excited at 760 nm. The resulting fluorescence signal was binned manually on a cell by cell basis. This improved the reliability of fitting using a double exponential decay model and allowed the fluorescence signatures from different cell populations within the tissue to be identified and studied. We also performed a direct comparison between different diagnostic groups. A statistically significant difference between the median mean fluorescence lifetime of 2.79 ns versus 2.52 ns (blue channel, 300-500 nm) and 2.08 ns versus 1.33 ns (green channel, 500-640 nm) was found between nBCCs and DN respectively, using the Mann-Whitney U test (p < 0.01). Further differences in the distribution of fluorescence lifetime parameters and inter-patient variability are also discussed.

Förster Resonance Energy Transfer Imaging in Vivo with Approximated Radiative Transfer Equation

Applied Optics. Dec, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 22193187

We describe a new light transport model, which was applied to three-dimensional lifetime imaging of Förster resonance energy transfer in mice in vivo. The model is an approximation to the radiative transfer equation and combines light diffusion and ray optics. This approximation is well adopted to wide-field time-gated intensity-based data acquisition. Reconstructed image data are presented and compared with results obtained by using the telegraph equation approximation. The new approach provides improved recovery of absorption and scattering parameters while returning similar values for the fluorescence parameters.

Multiphoton Laser Microscopy and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging for the Evaluation of the Skin

Dermatology Research and Practice. 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22203841

Multiphoton laser microscopy is a new, non-invasive technique providing access to the skin at a cellular and subcellular level, which is based both on autofluorescence and fluorescence lifetime imaging. Whereas the former considers fluorescence intensity emitted by epidermal and dermal fluorophores and by the extra-cellular matrix, fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), is generated by the fluorescence decay rate. This innovative technique can be applied to the study of living skin, cell cultures and ex vivo samples. Although still limited to the clinical research field, the development of multiphoton laser microscopy is thought to become suitable for a practical application in the next few years: in this paper, we performed an accurate review of the studies published so far, considering the possible fields of application of this imaging method and providing high quality images acquired in the Department of Dermatology of the University of Modena.

In Vivo Measurements of Diffuse Reflectance and Time-resolved Autofluorescence Emission Spectra of Basal Cell Carcinomas

Journal of Biophotonics. Mar, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22308093

We present a clinical investigation of diffuse reflectance and time-resolved autofluorescence spectra of skin cancer with an emphasis on basal cell carcinoma. A total of 25 patients were measured using a compact steady-state diffuse reflectance/fluorescence spectrometer and a fibre-optic-coupled multispectral time-resolved spectrofluorometer. Measurements were performed in vivo prior to surgical excision of the investigated region. Singular value decomposition was used to reduce the dimensionality of steady state diffuse reflectance and fluorescence spectra. Linear discriminant analysis was then applied to the measurements of basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and used to predict the tissue disease state with a leave-one-out methodology. This approach was able to correctly diagnose 87% of the BCCs. With 445 nm excitation a decrease in the spectrally averaged fluorescence lifetime was observed between normal tissue and BCC lesions with a mean value of 886 ps. Furthermore, the fluorescence lifetime for BCCs was lower than that of the surrounding healthy tissue in all cases and statistical analysis of the data revealed that this decrease was significant (p = 0.002).

Incorporation of an Experimentally Determined MTF for Spatial Frequency Filtering and Deconvolution During Optical Projection Tomography Reconstruction

Optics Express. Mar, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22453413

We demonstrate two techniques to improve the quality of reconstructed optical projection tomography (OPT) images using the modulation transfer function (MTF) as a function of defocus experimentally determined from tilted knife-edge measurements. The first employs a 2-D binary filter based on the MTF frequency cut-off as an additional filter during back-projection reconstruction that restricts the high frequency information to the region around the focal plane and progressively decreases the spatial frequency bandwidth with defocus. This helps to suppress "streak" artifacts in OPT data acquired at reduced angular sampling, thereby facilitating faster OPT acquisitions. This method is shown to reduce the average background by approximately 72% for an NA of 0.09 and by approximately 38% for an NA of 0.07 compared to standard filtered back-projection. As a biological illustration, a Fli:GFP transgenic zebrafish embryo (3 days post-fertilisation) was imaged to demonstrate the improved imaging speed (a quarter of the acquisition time). The second method uses the MTF to produce an appropriate deconvolution filter that can be used to correct for the spatial frequency modulation applied by the imaging system.

Multiphoton Multispectral Fluorescence Lifetime Tomography for the Evaluation of Basal Cell Carcinomas

PloS One. 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22984428

We present the first detailed study using multispectral multiphoton fluorescence lifetime imaging to differentiate basal cell carcinoma cells (BCCs) from normal keratinocytes. Images were acquired from 19 freshly excised BCCs and 27 samples of normal skin (in & ex vivo). Features from fluorescence lifetime images were used to discriminate BCCs with a sensitivity/specificity of 79%/93% respectively. A mosaic of BCC fluorescence lifetime images covering >1 mm(2) is also presented, demonstrating the potential for tumour margin delineation. Using 10,462 manually segmented cells from the image data, we quantify the cellular morphology and spectroscopic differences between BCCs and normal skin for the first time. Statistically significant increases were found in the fluorescence lifetimes of cells from BCCs in all spectral channels, ranging from 19.9% (425-515 nm spectral emission) to 39.8% (620-655 nm emission). A discriminant analysis based diagnostic algorithm allowed the fraction of cells classified as malignant to be calculated for each patient. This yielded a receiver operator characteristic area under the curve for the detection of BCC of 0.83. We have used both morphological and spectroscopic parameters to discriminate BCC from normal skin, and provide a comprehensive base for how this technique could be used for BCC assessment in clinical practice.

Activity of PLCε Contributes to Chemotaxis of Fibroblasts Towards PDGF

Journal of Cell Science. Dec, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22992460

Cell chemotaxis, such as migration of fibroblasts towards growth factors during development and wound healing, requires precise spatial coordination of signalling events. Phosphoinositides and signalling enzymes involved in their generation and hydrolysis have been implicated in regulation of chemotaxis; however, the role and importance of specific components remain poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that phospholipase C epsilon (PLCε) contributes to fibroblast chemotaxis towards platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF-BB). Using PLCe1 null fibroblasts we show that cells deficient in PLCε have greatly reduced directionality towards PDGF-BB without detrimental effect on their basal ability to migrate. Furthermore, we show that in intact fibroblasts, signalling events, such as activation of Rac, are spatially compromised by the absence of PLCε that affects the ability of cells to enlarge their protrusions in the direction of the chemoattractant. By further application of live cell imaging and the use of FRET-based biosensors, we show that generation of Ins(1,4,5)P(3) and recruitment of PLCε are most pronounced in protrusions responding to the PDGF-BB gradient. Furthermore, the phospholipase C activity of PLCε is critical for its role in chemotaxis, consistent with the importance of Ins(1,4,5)P(3) generation and sustained calcium responses in this process. As PLCε has extensive signalling connectivity, using transgenic fibroblasts we ruled out its activation by direct binding to Ras or Rap GTPases, and suggest instead new unexpected links for PLCε in the context of chemotaxis.

Fluorescence Lifetime Readouts of Troponin-C-based Calcium FRET Sensors: a Quantitative Comparison of CFP and MTFP1 As Donor Fluorophores

PloS One. 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 23152874

We have compared the performance of two Troponin-C-based calcium FRET sensors using fluorescence lifetime read-outs. The first sensor, TN-L15, consists of a Troponin-C fragment inserted between CFP and Citrine while the second sensor, called mTFP-TnC-Cit, was realized by replacing CFP in TN-L15 with monomeric Teal Fluorescent Protein (mTFP1). Using cytosol preparations of transiently transfected mammalian cells, we have measured the fluorescence decay profiles of these sensors at controlled concentrations of calcium using time-correlated single photon counting. These data were fitted to discrete exponential decay models using global analysis to determine the FRET efficiency, fraction of donor molecules undergoing FRET and calcium affinity of these sensors. We have also studied the decay profiles of the donor fluorescent proteins alone and determined the sensitivity of the donor lifetime to temperature and emission wavelength. Live-cell fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) of HEK293T cells expressing each of these sensors was also undertaken. We confirmed that donor fluorescence of mTFP-TnC-Cit fits well to a two-component decay model, while the TN-L15 lifetime data was best fitted to a constrained four-component model, which was supported by phasor analysis of the measured lifetime data. If the constrained global fitting is employed, the TN-L15 sensor can provide a larger dynamic range of lifetime readout than the mTFP-TnC-Cit sensor but the CFP donor is significantly more sensitive to changes in temperature and emission wavelength compared to mTFP and, while the mTFP-TnC-Cit solution phase data broadly agreed with measurements in live cells, this was not the case for the TN-L15 sensor. Our titration experiment also indicates that a similar precision in determination of calcium concentration can be achieved with both FRET biosensors when fitting a single exponential donor fluorescence decay model to the fluorescence decay profiles. We therefore suggest that mTFP-based probes are more suitable for FLIM experiments than CFP-based probes.

Automated Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Plate Reader and Its Application to Förster Resonant Energy Transfer Readout of Gag Protein Aggregation

Journal of Biophotonics. May, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23184449

Fluorescence lifetime measurements can provide quantitative readouts of local fluorophore environment and can be applied to biomolecular interactions via Förster resonant energy transfer (FRET). Fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) can therefore provide a high content analysis (HCA) modality to map protein-protein interactions (PPIs) with applications in drug discovery, systems biology and basic research. We present here an automated multiwell plate reader able to perform rapid unsupervised optically sectioned FLIM of fixed and live biological samples and illustrate its potential to assay PPIs through application to Gag protein aggregation during the HIV life cycle. We demonstrate both hetero-FRET and homo-FRET readouts of protein aggregation and report the first quantitative evaluation of a FLIM HCA assay by generating dose response curves through addition of an inhibitor of Gag myristoylation. Z' factors exceeding 0.6 are realised for this FLIM FRET assay.

Simultaneous Angular Multiplexing Optical Projection Tomography at Shifted Focal Planes

Optics Letters. Mar, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23503237

We describe an angular multiplexing technique for optical projection tomography that improves resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and imaging speed by ameliorating the trade-off between spatial resolution and depth of field and improving the light collection efficiency. Here we demonstrate that imaging at two orthogonal angular projections simultaneously, focused on shifted planes in the sample, improves the average spatial resolution by ~20% and the light collection efficiency by a factor of ~4, thereby enabling increased acquisition speed and reduced light dose.

Multiphoton Laser Tomography and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging of Melanoma: Morphologic Features and Quantitative Data for Sensitive and Specific Non-invasive Diagnostics

PloS One. 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23923016

Multiphoton laser tomography (MPT) combined with fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) is a non-invasive imaging technique, based on the study of fluorescence decay times of naturally occurring fluorescent molecules, enabling a non-invasive investigation of the skin with subcellular resolution. The aim of this retrospective observational ex vivo study, was to characterize melanoma both from a morphologic and a quantitative point of view, attaining an improvement in the diagnostic accuracy with respect to dermoscopy. In the training phase, thirty parameters, comprising both cytological descriptors and architectural aspects, were identified. The training set included 6 melanomas with a mean Breslow thickness±S.D. of 0.89±0.48 mm. In the test phase, these parameters were blindly evaluated on a test data set consisting of 25 melanomas, 50 nevi and 50 basal cell carcinomas. Melanomas in the test phase comprised 8 in situ lesions and had a mean thickness±S.D. of 0.77±1.2 mm. Moreover, quantitative FLIM data were calculated for special areas of interest. Melanoma was characterized by the presence of atypical short lifetime cells and architectural disorder, in contrast to nevi presenting typical cells and a regular histoarchitecture. Sensitivity and specificity values for melanoma diagnosis were 100% and 98%, respectively, whereas dermoscopy achieved the same sensitivity, but a lower specificity (82%). Mean fluorescence lifetime values of melanocytic cells did not vary between melanomas and nevi, but significantly differed from those referring to basal cell carcinoma enabling a differential diagnosis based on quantitative data. Data from prospective preoperative trials are needed to confirm if MPT/FLIM could increase diagnostic specificity and thus reduce unnecessary surgical excisions.

Rapid Global Fitting of Large Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy Datasets

PloS One. 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23940626

Fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) is widely applied to obtain quantitative information from fluorescence signals, particularly using Förster Resonant Energy Transfer (FRET) measurements to map, for example, protein-protein interactions. Extracting FRET efficiencies or population fractions typically entails fitting data to complex fluorescence decay models but such experiments are frequently photon constrained, particularly for live cell or in vivo imaging, and this leads to unacceptable errors when analysing data on a pixel-wise basis. Lifetimes and population fractions may, however, be more robustly extracted using global analysis to simultaneously fit the fluorescence decay data of all pixels in an image or dataset to a multi-exponential model under the assumption that the lifetime components are invariant across the image (dataset). This approach is often considered to be prohibitively slow and/or computationally expensive but we present here a computationally efficient global analysis algorithm for the analysis of time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) or time-gated FLIM data based on variable projection. It makes efficient use of both computer processor and memory resources, requiring less than a minute to analyse time series and multiwell plate datasets with hundreds of FLIM images on standard personal computers. This lifetime analysis takes account of repetitive excitation, including fluorescence photons excited by earlier pulses contributing to the fit, and is able to accommodate time-varying backgrounds and instrument response functions. We demonstrate that this global approach allows us to readily fit time-resolved fluorescence data to complex models including a four-exponential model of a FRET system, for which the FRET efficiencies of the two species of a bi-exponential donor are linked, and polarisation-resolved lifetime data, where a fluorescence intensity and bi-exponential anisotropy decay model is applied to the analysis of live cell homo-FRET data. A software package implementing this algorithm, FLIMfit, is available under an open source licence through the Open Microscopy Environment.

3-D Stimulated Emission Depletion Microscopy with Programmable Aberration Correction

Journal of Biophotonics. Jan, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 23788459

We present a stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscope that provides 3-D super resolution by simultaneous depletion using beams with both a helical phase profile for enhanced lateral resolution and an annular phase profile to enhance axial resolution. The 3-D depletion point spread function is realised using a single spatial light modulator that can also be programmed to compensate for aberrations in the microscope and the sample. We apply it to demonstrate the first 3-D super-resolved imaging of an immunological synapse between a Natural Killer cell and its target cell.

Fluorescence Lifetime Spectroscopy of Tissue Autofluorescence in Normal and Diseased Colon Measured Ex Vivo Using a Fiber-optic Probe

Biomedical Optics Express. Feb, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24575345

We present an ex vivo study of temporally and spectrally resolved autofluorescence in a total of 47 endoscopic excision biopsy/resection specimens from colon, using pulsed excitation laser sources operating at wavelengths of 375 nm and 435 nm. A paired analysis of normal and neoplastic (adenomatous polyp) tissue specimens obtained from the same patient yielded a significant difference in the mean spectrally averaged autofluorescence lifetime -570 ± 740 ps (p = 0.021, n = 12). We also investigated the fluorescence signature of non-neoplastic polyps (n = 6) and inflammatory bowel disease (n = 4) compared to normal tissue in a small number of specimens.

Introduction: Feature Issue on Optical Molecular Probes, Imaging, and Drug Delivery

Biomedical Optics Express. Feb, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24575356

The editors introduce the Biomedical Optics Express feature issue "Optical Molecular Probes, Imaging, and Drug Delivery," which is associated with a Topical Meeting of the same name held at the 2013 Optical Society of America (OSA) Optics in the Life Sciences Congress in Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii, April 14-18, 2013. The international meeting focused on the convergence of optical physics, photonics technology, nanoscience, and photochemistry with drug discovery and clinical medicine. Papers in this feature issue are representative of meeting topics, including advances in microscopy, nanotechnology, and optics in cancer research.

Analysis of DNA Binding and Nucleotide Flipping Kinetics Using Two-color Two-photon Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy

Analytical Chemistry. Nov, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25303623

Uracil DNA glycosylase plays a key role in DNA maintenance via base excision repair. Its role is to bind to DNA, locate unwanted uracil, and remove it using a base flipping mechanism. To date, kinetic analysis of this complex process has been achieved using stopped-flow analysis but, due to limitations in instrumental dead-times, discrimination of the "binding" and "base flipping" steps is compromised. Herein we present a novel approach for analyzing base flipping using a microfluidic mixer and two-color two-photon (2c2p) fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM). We demonstrate that 2c2p FLIM can simultaneously monitor binding and base flipping kinetics within the continuous flow microfluidic mixer, with results showing good agreement with computational fluid dynamics simulations.

Remote Focal Scanning Optical Projection Tomography with an Electrically Tunable Lens

Biomedical Optics Express. Oct, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25360356

We describe a remote focal scanning technique for optical projection tomography (OPT) implemented with an electrically tunable lens (ETL) that removes the need to scan the specimen or objective lens. Using a 4× objective lens the average spatial resolution is improved by ∼46% and the light collection efficiency by a factor of ∼6.76, thereby enabling increased acquisition speed and reduced light dose. This convenient implementation is particularly appropriate for lower magnifications and larger sample diameters where axial objective scanning would encounter problems with speed and stability.

Application of Time-resolved Autofluorescence to Label-free in Vivo Optical Mapping of Changes in Tissue Matrix and Metabolism Associated with Myocardial Infarction and Heart Failure

Biomedical Optics Express. Feb, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25780727

We investigate the potential of an instrument combining time-resolved spectrofluorometry and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy to measure structural and metabolic changes in cardiac tissue in vivo in a 16 week post-myocardial infarction heart failure model in rats. In the scar region, we observed changes in the fluorescence signal that can be explained by increased collagen content, which is in good agreement with histology. In areas remote from the scar tissue, we measured changes in the fluorescence signal (p < 0.001) that cannot be explained by differences in collagen content and we attribute this to altered metabolism within the myocardium. A linear discriminant analysis algorithm was applied to the measurements to predict the tissue disease state. When we combine all measurements, our results reveal high diagnostic accuracy in the infarcted area (100%) and border zone (94.44%) as well as in remote regions from the scar (> 77%). Overall, our results demonstrate the potential of our instrument to characterize structural and metabolic changes in a failing heart in vivo without using exogenous labels.

Mesoscopic in Vivo 3-D Tracking of Sparse Cell Populations Using Angular Multiplexed Optical Projection Tomography

Biomedical Optics Express. Apr, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25909009

We describe an angular multiplexed imaging technique for 3-D in vivo cell tracking of sparse cell distributions and optical projection tomography (OPT) with superior time-lapse resolution and a significantly reduced light dose compared to volumetric time-lapse techniques. We demonstrate that using dual axis OPT, where two images are acquired simultaneously at different projection angles, can enable localization and tracking of features in 3-D with a time resolution equal to the camera frame rate. This is achieved with a 200x reduction in light dose compared to an equivalent volumetric time-lapse single camera OPT acquisition with 200 projection angles. We demonstrate the application of this technique to mapping the 3-D neutrophil migration pattern observed over ~25.5 minutes in a live 2 day post-fertilisation transgenic LysC:GFP zebrafish embryo following a tail wound.

Correction Approach for Delta Function Convolution Model Fitting of Fluorescence Decay Data in the Case of a Monoexponential Reference Fluorophore

Journal of Fluorescence. Sep, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26063535

A correction is proposed to the Delta function convolution method (DFCM) for fitting a multiexponential decay model to time-resolved fluorescence decay data using a monoexponential reference fluorophore. A theoretical analysis of the discretised DFCM multiexponential decay function shows the presence an extra exponential decay term with the same lifetime as the reference fluorophore that we denote as the residual reference component. This extra decay component arises as a result of the discretised convolution of one of the two terms in the modified model function required by the DFCM. The effect of the residual reference component becomes more pronounced when the fluorescence lifetime of the reference is longer than all of the individual components of the specimen under inspection and when the temporal sampling interval is not negligible compared to the quantity (τR (-1) - τ(-1))(-1), where τR and τ are the fluorescence lifetimes of the reference and the specimen respectively. It is shown that the unwanted residual reference component results in systematic errors when fitting simulated data and that these errors are not present when the proposed correction is applied. The correction is also verified using real data obtained from experiment.

Homo-FRET Based Biosensors and Their Application to Multiplexed Imaging of Signalling Events in Live Cells

International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Jun, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26133241

Multiplexed imaging of Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET)-based biosensors potentially presents a powerful approach to monitoring the spatio-temporal correlation of signalling pathways within a single live cell. Here, we discuss the potential of homo-FRET based biosensors to facilitate multiplexed imaging. We demonstrate that the homo-FRET between pleckstrin homology domains of Akt (Akt-PH) labelled with mCherry may be used to monitor 3'-phosphoinositide accumulation in live cells and show how global analysis of time resolved fluorescence anisotropy measurements can be used to quantify this accumulation. We further present multiplexed imaging readouts of calcium concentration, using fluorescence lifetime measurements of TN-L15-a CFP/YFP based hetero-FRET calcium biosensor-with 3'-phosphoinositide accumulation.

Accelerated Optical Projection Tomography Applied to In Vivo Imaging of Zebrafish

PloS One. 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26308086

Optical projection tomography (OPT) provides a non-invasive 3-D imaging modality that can be applied to longitudinal studies of live disease models, including in zebrafish. Current limitations include the requirement of a minimum number of angular projections for reconstruction of reasonable OPT images using filtered back projection (FBP), which is typically several hundred, leading to acquisition times of several minutes. It is highly desirable to decrease the number of required angular projections to decrease both the total acquisition time and the light dose to the sample. This is particularly important to enable longitudinal studies, which involve measurements of the same fish at different time points. In this work, we demonstrate that the use of an iterative algorithm to reconstruct sparsely sampled OPT data sets can provide useful 3-D images with 50 or fewer projections, thereby significantly decreasing the minimum acquisition time and light dose while maintaining image quality. A transgenic zebrafish embryo with fluorescent labelling of the vasculature was imaged to acquire densely sampled (800 projections) and under-sampled data sets of transmitted and fluorescence projection images. The under-sampled OPT data sets were reconstructed using an iterative total variation-based image reconstruction algorithm and compared against FBP reconstructions of the densely sampled data sets. To illustrate the potential for quantitative analysis following rapid OPT data acquisition, a Hessian-based method was applied to automatically segment the reconstructed images to select the vasculature network. Results showed that 3-D images of the zebrafish embryo and its vasculature of sufficient visual quality for quantitative analysis can be reconstructed using the iterative algorithm from only 32 projections-achieving up to 28 times improvement in imaging speed and leading to total acquisition times of a few seconds.

Time-resolved FRET Reports FGFR1 Dimerization and Formation of a Complex with Its Effector PLCγ1

Advances in Biological Regulation. Jan, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26482290

In vitro and in vivo imaging of protein tyrosine kinase activity requires minimally invasive, molecularly precise optical probes to provide spatiotemporal mechanistic information of dimerization and complex formation with downstream effectors. We present here a construct with genetically encoded, site-specifically incorporated, bioorthogonal reporter that can be selectively labelled with exogenous fluorogenic probes to monitor the structure and function of fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR). GyrB.FGFR1KD.TC contains a coumermycin-induced artificial dimerizer (GyrB), FGFR1 kinase domain (KD) and a tetracysteine (TC) motif that enables fluorescent labelling with biarsenical dyes FlAsH-EDT2 and ReAsH-EDT2. We generated bimolecular system for time-resolved FRET (TR-FRET) studies, which pairs FlAsH-tagged GyrB.FGFR1KD.TC and N-terminal Src homology 2 (nSH2) domain of phospholipase Cγ (PLCγ), a downstream effector of FGFR1, fused to mTurquoise fluorescent protein (mTFP). We demonstrated phosphorylation-dependent TR-FRET readout of complex formation between mTFP.nSH2 and GyrB.FGFR1KD.TC. By further application of TR-FRET, we also demonstrated formation of the GyrB.FGFR1KD.TC homodimer by coumermycin-induced dimerization. Herein, we present a spectroscopic FRET approach to facilitate and propagate studies that would provide structural and functional insights for FGFR and other tyrosine kinases.

Visualising Apoptosis in Live Zebrafish Using Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging with Optical Projection Tomography to Map FRET Biosensor Activity in Space and Time

Journal of Biophotonics. Apr, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26753623

Fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) combined with optical projection tomography (OPT) has the potential to map Förster resonant energy transfer (FRET) readouts in space and time in intact transparent or near transparent live organisms such as zebrafish larvae, thereby providing a means to visualise cell signalling processes in their physiological context. Here the first application of FLIM OPT to read out biological function in live transgenic zebrafish larvae using a genetically expressed FRET biosensor is reported. Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is mapped in 3-D by imaging the activity of a FRET biosensor that is cleaved by Caspase 3, which is a key effector of apoptosis. Although apoptosis is a naturally occurring process during development, it can also be triggered in a variety of ways, including through gamma irradiation. FLIM OPT is shown here to enable apoptosis to be monitored over time, in live zebrafish larvae via changes in Caspase 3 activation following gamma irradiation at 24 hours post fertilisation. Significant apoptosis was observed at 3.5 hours post irradiation, predominantly in the head region.

Tunable Fibre-coupled Multiphoton Microscopy with a Negative Curvature Fibre

Journal of Biophotonics. Jul, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26989868

Negative curvature fibre (NCF) guides light in its core by inhibiting the coupling of core and cladding modes. In this work, an NCF was designed and fabricated to transmit ultrashort optical pulses for multiphoton microscopy with low group velocity dispersion (GVD) at 800 nm. Its attenuation was measured to be <0.3 dB m(-1) over the range 600-850 nm and the GVD was -180 ± 70 fs(2)  m(-1) at 800 nm. Using an average fibre output power of ∼20 mW and pulse repetition rate of 80 MHz, the NCF enabled pulses with a duration of <200 fs to be transmitted through a length of 1.5 m of fibre over a tuning range of 180 nm without the need for dispersion compensation. In a 4 m fibre, temporal and spectral pulse widths were maintained to within 10% of low power values up to the maximum fibre output power achievable with the laser system used of 278 mW at 700 nm, 808 mW at 800 nm and 420 mW at 860 nm. When coupled to a multiphoton microscope, it enabled imaging of ex vivo tissue using excitation wavelengths from 740 nm to 860 nm without any need for adjustments to the set-up.

Quantitative in Vivo Optical Tomography of Cancer Progression & Vasculature Development in Adult Zebrafish

Oncotarget. Jul, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27259259

We describe a novel approach to study tumour progression and vasculature development in vivo via global 3-D fluorescence imaging of live non-pigmented adult zebrafish utilising angularly multiplexed optical projection tomography with compressive sensing (CS-OPT). This "mesoscopic" imaging method bridges a gap between established ~μm resolution 3-D fluorescence microscopy techniques and ~mm-resolved whole body planar imaging and diffuse tomography. Implementing angular multiplexing with CS-OPT, we demonstrate the in vivo global imaging of an inducible fluorescently labelled genetic model of liver cancer in adult non-pigmented zebrafish that also present fluorescently labelled vasculature. In this disease model, addition of a chemical inducer (doxycycline) drives expression of eGFP tagged oncogenic K-RASV12 in the liver of immune competent animals. We show that our novel in vivo global imaging methodology enables non-invasive quantitative imaging of the development of tumour and vasculature throughout the progression of the disease, which we have validated against established methods of pathology including immunohistochemistry. We have also demonstrated its potential for longitudinal imaging through a study of vascular development in the same zebrafish from early embryo to adulthood. We believe that this instrument, together with its associated analysis and data management tools, constitute a new platform for in vivo cancer studies and drug discovery in zebrafish disease models.

Screening for Protein-protein Interactions Using Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM)

Scientific Reports. Jun, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27339025

We present a high content multiwell plate cell-based assay approach to quantify protein interactions directly in cells using Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) read out by automated fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM). Automated FLIM is implemented using wide-field time-gated detection, typically requiring only 10 s per field of view (FOV). Averaging over biological, thermal and shot noise with 100's to 1000's of FOV enables unbiased quantitative analysis with high statistical power. Plotting average donor lifetime vs. acceptor/donor intensity ratio clearly identifies protein interactions and fitting to double exponential donor decay models provides estimates of interacting population fractions that, with calibrated donor and acceptor fluorescence intensities, can yield dissociation constants. We demonstrate the application to identify binding partners of MST1 kinase and estimate interaction strength among the members of the RASSF protein family, which have important roles in apoptosis via the Hippo signalling pathway. KD values broadly agree with published biochemical measurements.

Imaging of Metabolic Status in 3D Cultures with an Improved AMPK FRET Biosensor for FLIM

Sensors (Basel, Switzerland). Aug, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27548185

We describe an approach to non-invasively map spatiotemporal biochemical and physiological changes in 3D cell culture using Forster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) biosensors expressed in tumour spheroids. In particular, we present an improved Adenosine Monophosphate (AMP) Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) FRET biosensor, mTurquoise2 AMPK Activity Reporter (T2AMPKAR), for fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) readouts that we have evaluated in 2D and 3D cultures. Our results in 2D cell culture indicate that replacing the FRET donor, enhanced Cyan Fluorescent Protein (ECFP), in the original FRET biosensor, AMPK activity reporter (AMPKAR), with mTurquoise2 (mTq2FP), increases the dynamic range of the response to activation of AMPK, as demonstrated using the direct AMPK activator, 991. We demonstrated 3D FLIM of this T2AMPKAR FRET biosensor expressed in tumour spheroids using two-photon excitation.

EasySTORM: a Robust, Lower-cost Approach to Localisation and TIRF Microscopy

Journal of Biophotonics. Sep, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27592533

TIRF and STORM microscopy are super-resolving fluorescence imaging modalities for which current implementations on standard microscopes can present significant complexity and cost. We present a straightforward and low-cost approach to implement STORM and TIRF taking advantage of multimode optical fibres and multimode diode lasers to provide the required excitation light. Combined with open source software and relatively simple protocols to prepare samples for STORM, including the use of Vectashield for non-TIRF imaging, this approach enables TIRF and STORM imaging of cells labelled with appropriate dyes or expressing suitable fluorescent proteins to become widely accessible at low cost.

Corrigendum: Screening for Protein-protein Interactions Using Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM)

Scientific Reports. Sep, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27654516

Adaptive Multiphoton Endomicroscopy Through a Dynamically Deformed Multicore Optical Fiber Using Proximal Detection

Optics Express. Sep, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27661887

This paper demonstrates multiphoton excited fluorescence imaging through a polarisation maintaining multicore fiber (PM-MCF) while the fiber is dynamically deformed using all-proximal detection. Single-shot proximal measurement of the relative optical path lengths of all the cores of the PM-MCF in double pass is achieved using a Mach-Zehnder interferometer read out by a scientific CMOS camera operating at 416 Hz. A non-linear least squares fitting procedure is then employed to determine the deformation-induced lateral shift of the excitation spot at the distal tip of the PM-MCF. An experimental validation of this approach is presented that compares the proximally measured deformation-induced lateral shift in focal spot position to an independent distally measured ground truth. The proximal measurement of deformation-induced shift in focal spot position is applied to correct for deformation-induced shifts in focal spot position during raster-scanning multiphoton excited fluorescence imaging.

Plasmonic Nanoprobes for Stimulated Emission Depletion Nanoscopy

ACS Nano. Nov, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27794591

Plasmonic nanoparticles influence the absorption and emission processes of nearby emitters due to local enhancements of the illuminating radiation and the photonic density of states. Here, we use the plasmon resonance of metal nanoparticles in order to enhance the stimulated depletion of excited molecules for super-resolved nanoscopy. We demonstrate stimulated emission depletion (STED) nanoscopy with gold nanorods with a long axis of only 26 nm and a width of 8 nm. These particles provide an enhancement of up to 50% of the resolution compared to fluorescent-only probes without plasmonic components irradiated with the same depletion power. The nanoparticle-assisted STED probes reported here represent a ∼2 × 10(3) reduction in probe volume compared to previously used nanoparticles. Finally, we demonstrate their application toward plasmon-assisted STED cellular imaging at low-depletion powers, and we also discuss their current limitations.

Conformational Transition of FGFR Kinase Activation Revealed by Site-specific Unnatural Amino Acid Reporter and Single Molecule FRET

Scientific Reports. Jan, 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 28045057

Protein kinases share significant structural similarity; however, structural features alone are insufficient to explain their diverse functions. Thus, bridging the gap between static structure and function requires a more detailed understanding of their dynamic properties. For example, kinase activation may occur via a switch-like mechanism or by shifting a dynamic equilibrium between inactive and active states. Here, we utilize a combination of FRET and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to probe the activation mechanism of the kinase domain of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor (FGFR). Using genetically-encoded, site-specific incorporation of unnatural amino acids in regions essential for activation, followed by specific labeling with fluorescent moieties, we generated a novel class of FRET-based reporter to monitor conformational differences corresponding to states sampled by non phosphorylated/inactive and phosphorylated/active forms of the kinase. Single molecule FRET analysis in vitro, combined with MD simulations, shows that for FGFR kinase, there are populations of inactive and active states separated by a high free energy barrier resulting in switch-like activation. Compared to recent studies, these findings support diversity in features of kinases that impact on their activation mechanisms. The properties of these FRET-based constructs will also allow further studies of kinase dynamics as well as applications in vivo.

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