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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2017 Nov;18(11):685-701. doi: 10.1038/nrm.2017.71. Epub 2017 Sep 6.

Fluorescence nanoscopy in cell biology.

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Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Department of NanoBiophotonics, Am Fassberg 11, 37077 Göttingen, Germany.
Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Department of Optical Nanoscopy, Jahnstrasse 29, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), BioQuant, Im Neuenheimer Feld 267, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
University of Göttingen Medical Faculty, Department of Neurology, Robert-Koch-Strasse 40, 37075 Göttingen, Germany.


Fluorescence nanoscopy uniquely combines minimally invasive optical access to the internal nanoscale structure and dynamics of cells and tissues with molecular detection specificity. While the basic physical principles of 'super-resolution' imaging were discovered in the 1990s, with initial experimental demonstrations following in 2000, the broad application of super-resolution imaging to address cell-biological questions has only more recently emerged. Nanoscopy approaches have begun to facilitate discoveries in cell biology and to add new knowledge. One current direction for method improvement is the ambition to quantitatively account for each molecule under investigation and assess true molecular colocalization patterns via multi-colour analyses. In pursuing this goal, the labelling of individual molecules to enable their visualization has emerged as a central challenge. Extending nanoscale imaging into (sliced) tissue and whole-animal contexts is a further goal. In this Review we describe the successes to date and discuss current obstacles and possibilities for further development.

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