Super-resolution optical microscopy techniques such as STED microscopy allow the study of living cells with nanoscale resolution, otherwise impeded by the limited spatial resolution of conventional microscopes. This talk will highlight the basics, prospects and limitations of this technique for biophysical research. Besides the recording of images, the combination of STED with single-molecule sensitive spectroscopic tools such as Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) discloses complex dynamical processes hidden to the conventional observations. For example, STED-FCS offers novel insights into important cellular processes, such as lipid-lipid and lipid-protein interactions in the plasma membrane of living cells, and their role in cellular functionality, e.g. in the activation of immune cells such as T-cells.
MRC Human Immunology Unit & Wolfson Imaging Centre Oxford, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
The main research interests of my laboratory are focused on the application and development of ultra-sensitive, live-cell fluorescence microscopy techniques with a spatial resolution down to the molecular level (super-resolution microscopy or nanoscopy), superior to conventional optical microscopes. These super-resolution microscopes will be used to unravel nanoscopic changes at the molecular level in living cells following cellular immune responses. We are planning to visualize previously un-detectable molecular interactions (such as protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions), which will shed new light on different molecular pathways triggered at the cell surface and intracellularly during antigen presentation by dendritic cells and T cell activation.