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J Vis Exp. 2012 May 27;(63):e3599. doi: 10.3791/3599.

Mapping molecular diffusion in the plasma membrane by Multiple-Target Tracing (MTT).

Author information

1
Institut National de Santé et de Recherche Médicale, UMR 631, Parc scientifique de Luminy.

Abstract

Our goal is to obtain a comprehensive description of molecular processes occurring at cellular membranes in different biological functions. We aim at characterizing the complex organization and dynamics of the plasma membrane at single-molecule level, by developing analytic tools dedicated to Single-Particle Tracking (SPT) at high density: Multiple-Target Tracing (MTT). Single-molecule videomicroscopy, offering millisecond and nanometric resolution, allows a detailed representation of membrane organization by accurately mapping descriptors such as cell receptors localization, mobility, confinement or interactions. We revisited SPT, both experimentally and algorithmically. Experimental aspects included optimizing setup and cell labeling, with a particular emphasis on reaching the highest possible labeling density, in order to provide a dynamic snapshot of molecular dynamics as it occurs within the membrane. Algorithmic issues concerned each step used for rebuilding trajectories: peaks detection, estimation and reconnection, addressed by specific tools from image analysis. Implementing deflation after detection allows rescuing peaks initially hidden by neighboring, stronger peaks. Of note, improving detection directly impacts reconnection, by reducing gaps within trajectories. Performances have been evaluated using Monte-Carlo simulations for various labeling density and noise values, which typically represent the two major limitations for parallel measurements at high spatiotemporal resolution. The nanometric accuracy obtained for single molecules, using either successive on/off photoswitching or non-linear optics, can deliver exhaustive observations. This is the basis of nanoscopy methods such as STORM, PALM, RESOLFT or STED, which may often require imaging fixed samples. The central task is the detection and estimation of diffraction-limited peaks emanating from single-molecules. Hence, providing adequate assumptions such as handling a constant positional accuracy instead of Brownian motion, MTT is straightforwardly suited for nanoscopic analyses. Furthermore, MTT can fundamentally be used at any scale: not only for molecules, but also for cells or animals, for instance. Hence, MTT is a powerful tracking algorithm that finds applications at molecular and cellular scales.

PMID:
22664619
PMCID:
PMC3466947
DOI:
10.3791/3599
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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