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Analytical tools for single-molecule fluorescence imaging in cellulo

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JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
DatePublished - 14 Mar 2014
Issue number25
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)12635-12647
Original languageEnglish


Recent technological advances in cutting-edge ultrasensitive fluorescence microscopy have allowed single-molecule imaging experiments in living cells across all three domains of life to become commonplace. Single-molecule live-cell data is typically obtained in a low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) regime sometimes only marginally in excess of 1, in which a combination of detector shot noise, sub-optimal probe photophysics, native cell autofluorescence and intrinsically underlying stochasticity of molecules result in highly noisy datasets for which underlying true molecular behaviour is non-trivial to discern. The ability to elucidate real molecular phenomena is essential in relating experimental single-molecule observations to both the biological system under study as well as offering insight into the fine details of the physical and chemical environments of the living cell. To confront this problem of faithful signal extraction and analysis in a noise-dominated regime, the 'needle in a haystack' challenge, such experiments benefit enormously from a suite of objective, automated, high-throughput analysis tools that can home in on the underlying 'molecular signature' and generate meaningful statistics across a large population of individual cells and molecules. Here, I discuss the development and application of several analytical methods applied to real case studies, including objective methods of segmenting cellular images from light microscopy data, tools to robustly localize and track single fluorescently-labelled molecules, algorithms to objectively interpret molecular mobility, analysis protocols to reliably estimate molecular stoichiometry and turnover, and methods to objectively render distributions of molecular parameters.

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© Owner Societies 2014. This is an author produced version of a paper accepted for publication in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

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