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2 Publications

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    03/15/17 | Quantifying transcription factor binding dynamics at the single-molecule level in live cells.
    Presman DM, Ball DA, Paakinaho V, Grimm JB, Lavis LD, Karpova TS, Hager GL
    Methods (San Diego, Calif.). 2017 Mar 15:. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2017.03.014

    Progressive, technological achievements in the quantitative fluorescence microscopy field are allowing researches from many different areas to start unraveling the dynamic intricacies of biological processes inside living cells. From super-resolution microscopy techniques to tracking of individual proteins, fluorescence microscopy is changing our perspective on how the cell works. Fortunately, a growing number of research groups are exploring single-molecule studies in living cells. However, no clear consensus exists on several key aspects of the technique such as image acquisition conditions, or analysis of the obtained data. Here, we describe a detailed approach to perform single-molecule tracking (SMT) of transcription factors in living cells to obtain key binding characteristics, namely their residence time and bound fractions. We discuss different types of fluorophores, labeling density, microscope, cameras, data acquisition, and data analysis. Using the glucocorticoid receptor as a model transcription factor, we compared alternate tags (GFP, mEOS, HaloTag, SNAP-tag, CLIP-tag) for potential multicolor applications. We also examine different methods to extract the dissociation rates and compare them with simulated data. Finally, we discuss several challenges that this exciting technique still faces.

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    03/13/17 | Stochastic protein labeling enables long-term single molecule observation in vivo.
    Liu H, Dong P, Ioannou MS, Li L, Shea J, Pasolli HA, Grimm JB, Rivlin PK, Lavis LD, Koyama M, Liu Z
    bioRxiv. 2017 Mar 13:. doi: 10.1101/116186

    Our ability to unambiguously image and track individual molecules in live cells is limited by packing of multiple copies of labeled molecules within the resolution limit. Here we devise a universal genetic strategy to precisely control protein copy number in a cell. This system has a dynamic titration range of more than 10,000 fold, enabling sparse labeling of proteins expressed at widely different levels. Combined with fluorescence signal amplification tags, this system extends the duration of automated single-molecule tracking by 2 orders of magnitude. We demonstrate long-term imaging of synaptic vesicle dynamics in cultured neurons as well as in live zebrafish. We found that axon initial segment utilizes a waterfall mechanism gating synaptic vesicle transport polarity by promoting anterograde transport processivity. Long-time observation also reveals that transcription factor Sox2 samples clustered binding sites in spatially-restricted sub-nuclear regions, suggesting that topological structures in the nucleus shape local gene activities by a sequestering mechanism. This strategy thus greatly expands the spatiotemporal length scales of live-cell single-molecule measurements for a quantitative understanding of complex control of molecular dynamics in vivo.

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