tPAINT to Measure Molecular Forces in Live Cells


DNA-based probes to measure the nanoscale distribution of piconewton molecular forces in live cells.

Key Benefits

  • Provides maps of integrin tension with up to ˜25 nm resolution and piconewton force sensitivity for live-cell imaging.
  • The tPAINT can be performed on a commercial TIRF microscope.

Market Summary

Emory inventors have developed DNA-based tension probes, which enable measurement of the nanoscale distribution of piconewton molecular forces exerted by cells on their surroundings. This technique leverages DNA-based molecular tension probes to enable them to act as force-triggered switches. The inventors also show that these probes should be designed to avoid mechanical strain on the docking site. Mechanically strained docking sites produce a kinetic barrier to image binding and therefore fail to adequately report piconewton molecular forces. The strain-free tPAINT probe enables live-cell measurement of the dynamics of piconewton receptor forces. This technology enables super-resolved imaging of cellular traction forces at ˜25nm resolution, which is significantly higher spatial resolution compared to currently available methods. It can be used as a force probe for mechanobiology or biophysical research.

Technical Summary

Emory researchers, in collaboration with Georgia Tech and Purdue University, have developed arrays of modular DNA units that can relay information by transforming their shape in response to the binding of DNA triggers. These DNA tiles create a transformative cascade, relaying information about where the DNA trigger bound. This array relay’s transformation from one configuration to another can be designed and controlled. The transformation can be blocked and resumed at any designated location. This DNA nanoarray has applications in bionanotechnology, nanomedicine, and other forms of DNA nanotechnology.

Developmental Stage

This technique has been applied to human platelets and mouse embryonic fibroblasts.

Publication: Brockman, J.M. et al. (2020). Nature Methods, 17(10), 1018-1024.

Patent Information

Tech ID: 20062
Published: 11/17/2020