QSTORM Research Timeline

Follow along as the QSTORM research team races against time to make a major breakthrough in biological imaging. Their quest? To use the extraordinary fluorescence of quantum dots with STORM super-resolution microscopy techniques to achieve molecular scale imaging inside the cells of living organisims.

The QSTORM collaboration includes the following teams: Jessica Winter's chemical and biological engineering lab at Ohio State - Columbus; Peter Kner's super-resolution imaging lab at the University of Georgia - Athens; Beth Brainerd's evolutionary biology lab at Brown University; Ge Yang's biological engineering lab at Carnegie Mellon; and Carol Lynn Alpert's strategic projects studio at the Museum of Science, Boston. Support comes from the National Science Foundation's "Biological Imaging and Visualization Program."

Making Non-Toxic QDs

Gang and Quiri from Jessica’s lab have been synthesizing Mn-doped ZnSe quantum dots. These are not made with toxic Cadmium (like most QDs). Mn-doped ZnSe QDs also have a great photon yield (emitting 30-40% of the photons they absorb).

The QSTORM Idea is Born

The QSTORM team emerged during a week-long NSF “Innovations in Biological Imaging and Visualization” (IBIV) Ideas Lab workshop held at the Airlie Center in Warrenton, Virginia in May 2010.

Microinjecting Zebrafish

One of the first orders of business for Beth’s lab was to perfect microinjection into single muscle cells without spilling dyes/QDs into neighboring cells.

Promising Quantum Dots

After successfully creating the Mn-doped QDs and successfully developing the micelle containers, Jianquan from Jessica’s lab combined these techniques and created a promising QD – the Mn-doped QDs that are switchable with the micelle coating that aids with microinjection. Are we closing in on a QD that will work in living cells for STORM imaging? Or will we end up back at square one?

STORM imaging of PC12 cells

Ge’s lab labeled the Tau protein in PC12 cells (fake neurons) with Alexa dyes and sent the samples to Peter’s lab for imaging. Andrew and Peter successfully STORM imaged these samples showing the distribution of tau along the axonal structure in these cells.

A Meeting of the Minds in Athens

The 4 QSTORM PIs, along with Jianquan, the new QSTORM post-doc and a few other supporting folks gathered at UGA in Athens, GA to share research progress of each lab group thus far, and share ideas for next steps. You can read more about this meeting and find detailed research updates at the link below:

Better QDs for Microinjection?

Gang from Jessica’s lab succeeded in encapsulating QDs (commercially available Invitrogen QDs) inside a PS-PEG micelle container.

A Solution to QD Microinjection Problems?

Microinjection of QDs has proved challenging in living cells. One idea was that the QDs in micelles were too large for successful microinjection, so smaller micelle coated QDs were sent from Jessica’s lab to both Ge and Beth’s labs.

STORM imaging of Rabbit Psoas Muscle

Beth’s team labeled myosin heads of rabbit psoas muscle with Alexa dye and sent them to Peter’s lab for imaging. The resulting STORM image shows some structure, but there is room for improvement in image quality.

Imaging primary neurons

Yiyiu in Ge’s lab has been working to label tau proteins in primary neurons (rather than PC12 cells – the fake neurons). She did MAP-tau immunostaining in primary mouse hippocampal neurons. They are labeled with Alexa 488. These will be sent to Peter for STORM imaging.

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