Single particle tracking (SPT) enables light microscopy at a sub-diffraction limited spatial resolution by a combination of imaging at low molecular labeling densities and computational image processing. SPT and related single molecule imaging techniques have found a rapidly expanded use within the life sciences. This expanded use is due to an increased demand and requisite for developing a comprehensive understanding of the spatial dynamics of bio-molecular interactions at a spatial scale that is equivalent to the size of the molecules themselves, as well as by the emergence of new imaging techniques and probes that have made historically very demanding and specialized bio-imaging techniques more easily accessible and achievable. SPT has in particular found extensive use for analyzing the molecular organization of biological membranes. From these and other studies using complementary techniques it has been determined that the organization of native plasma membranes is heterogeneous over a very large range of spatial and temporal scales. The observed heterogeneities in the organization have the practical consequence that the SPT results in investigations of native plasma membranes are time dependent. Furthermore, because the accessible time dynamics, and also the spatial resolution, in an SPT experiment is mainly dependent on the luminous brightness and photostability of the particular SPT probe that is used, available SPT results are ultimately dependent on the SPT probes. The focus of this review is on the impact that the SPT probe has on the experimental results in SPT.
Keywords: Diffusion, domains, dyes, gold particles, lateral dynamics, plasma membrane organization, quantum dots, single molecule imaging, cholesterol, cytoskeleton
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