News

Researchers at Aalto and Karolinska developed a microscope without a microscope

DNA microscopy makes it possible to view biological molecules on micro-level without expensive optics.
Voronoi Mona Lisa
DNA microscopy being demonstrated on a renaissance painting. Image from the article.

Researchers at Aalto University and Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, have developed a novel microscopy method that helps in seeing where molecules of cells and tissue samples are– without using any optics. Unlike traditional microscopy technology, the new method called DNA microscopy is not based on light, rather it makes use of DNA sequencing and computer algorithms. This method has potential to become more common because it is for many applications much more convenient than traditional optical microscopy.

‘The new approach holds great potential for the study of cellular phenomena, and it shows how versatile the basic methods of DNA nanotechnology are. The combination of nanoscale programmable material and efficient algorithms is very powerful,’ says Professor Pekka Orponen, one of the authors of the article.

The new method allows scientists to search for multiple target molecules at the same time over a large area, such as searching for antibodies on the surface of a single cell. As a result of this, researchers can, for instance, study how such ‘micro-environments’ influence the life cycle of a cell or the development of a disease. In traditional microscopy, target molecules need to be detected one or at most a few at a time, which makes the process very slow.

In DNA microscopy, the cell or tissue sample connects to single-stranded DNA snippets that bind to the molecules of interest. If one wants to study a certain protein, short DNA snippets would be used for binding that protein. By using enzymes, these DNA snippets can be locally copied and combined into pairs. Consequently, longer DNA strands are formed and information about the target molecules’ locations in relation to each other is saved in them.

When the longer DNA strands have been created, this nano-level information about the relative locations of the target molecules can be read out by using modern DNA sequencing technology. In this study, researchers developed an effective computing method that, by using this kind of information, allows reconstruction of accurate images about how the target molecules are distributed across a sample.

The article was published in the journal PNAS.

The Åke Wiberg Foundation, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and the Academy of Finland funded the research.

Professori Pekka Orponen
Image Lasse Lecklin / Aalto University

The new approach holds great potential for the study of cellular phenomena, and it shows how versatile the basic methods of DNA nanotechnology are, says Professor Pekka Orponen.

Lisätiedot

Pekka Orponen

Pekka Orponen

Professor
Department of Computer Science
Department of Computer Science
  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Related news

Pitkäaikaissairauksien hoito on pirstaloitunutta ja kallista – ratkaisua haetaan virtuaalisesta hoidonohjaamosta
Research & Art Published:

Virtual care management system for solving fragmentation of chronic diseases treatment

The project, which has a budget of millions of euros and is led by Aalto University, involves University of Helsinki and numerous companies in the healthcare field.
Painted trees at Kipsari glass wall
Campus, Research & Art, Studies Published:

Holiday break at Takeout

Takeout will be closed 19.12.2020 - 10.01.2021
Nitin Sawhney standing outdoors with his bike, green grass and trees on the background
Research & Art Published:

Nitin Sawhney receives an Academy of Finland grant for analyzing and reconstructing crisis narratives

Professor Sawhney hopes that his collaborative research will offer insights into how crisis narratives emerge in society during the global pandemic
museum of impossible forms
Research & Art Published:

Museum of Impossible Forms wins State Art Prize 2020

ViCCA congratulates its students and alumni who have been active (and often founding) members of the Museum of Impossible Forms (est. 2017) – an anti-racist and queer-feminist cultural center in the suburb of Kontula – for the 2020 State Art Prize that they received from the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.