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Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2011 Dec;15(6):822-30. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2011.10.016. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

Using light to see and control membrane traffic.

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Department of Cell Biology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8002, USA.


Cellular compartmentalization into discrete organelles is maintained by membrane trafficking including vesiculation and tubulation. Recent advances in superresolution imaging have begun to bring these small and dynamic events into focus. Most nanoscopes exploit, and are limited by, switching dyes ON and OFF. Using ground state depletion to switch dyes into long-lived dark states can exploit specific photophysical properties of dyes, such as redox potential or pK(a), and expand the repertoire of nanoscopy probes for multicolor imaging. Seeing is not enough, and new technologies based on homodimerization, heterodimerization and selective release can manipulate membrane trafficking in pulse-chase and light-controlled ways. Herein we highlight the utility and promise of these strategies and discuss their current limitations.

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