New technique to study the interaction between cells

Cells are at the foundation of life. To gain a better understanding of essential life processes, we need to comprehend the language cells use to interact with each other. Biophysical scientist Christian Niederauer from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has developed a new method to study this interaction.

By using DNA as programmable building blocks, Niederauer created fluorescent labels that continuously renew themselves and do not fade like ordinary fluorescent labels. This allows researchers to study how biomolecules collaborate over extended periods.

This discovery has significant practical implications in various fields, both for scientists studying fundamental cellular processes and for medical researchers aiming to develop targeted therapies. By unraveling how molecules interact in living organisms, we can gain insights into diseases and develop more effective treatments. Niederauer explains, "For example, if we understand how proteins interact in cancer cells, we can develop new treatments that disrupt these interactions and halt tumor growth."

Self-renewing fluorescent labels based on DNA

A combination of biochemical laboratory work, advanced single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, and sophisticated data analysis framed this research. The self-renewing fluorescent labels developed by Niederauer were applied to interesting molecules on living cells and artificial systems. By observing these labeled molecules under specialized microscopy, interactions could be tracked for several minutes with a precision of 20-30 nanometers. The very small size of molecules is expressed in nanometers, where one nanometer equals one billionth of a meter.

Although Niederauer will defend his thesis on this new development on October 19, a publication of the research titled "Dual-color DNA-PAINT single-particle tracking enables extended studies of membrane protein interactions" was already released on July 19 in the scientific journal Nature