Single-Molecule Tracking and Its Application in Biomolecular Binding Detection


In the past two decades, significant advances have been made in single-molecule detection which enables the direct observation of single biomolecules at work in real time and under physiological conditions. In particular, the development of single-molecule tracking (SMT) microscopy allows us to monitor the motion paths of individual biomolecules in living systems, unveiling the localization dynamics, and transport modalities of the biomolecules that support the development of life. Beyond the capabilities of traditional camera-based tracking techniques, state-of-the-art SMT microscopies developed in recent years can record fluorescence lifetime while tracking a single molecule in the 3D space. This multiparameter detection capability can open the door to a wide range of investigations at the cellular or tissue level, including identification of molecular interaction hotspots and characterization of association/dissociation kinetics between molecules. In this review, we discuss various SMT techniques developed to date, with an emphasis on our recent development of the next generation 3D tracking system that not only achieves ultrahigh spatiotemporal resolution but also provides sufficient working depth suitable for live animal imaging. We also discuss the challenges that current SMT techniques are facing and the potential strategies to tackle those challenges.

Journal article
IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics