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Direct optical sensing of single unlabelled proteins and super-resolution imaging of their binding sites

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Piliarik,  Marek
Sandoghdar Division, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Max Planck Society;

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Sandoghdar,  Vahid
Sandoghdar Division, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Piliarik, M., & Sandoghdar, V. (2014). Direct optical sensing of single unlabelled proteins and super-resolution imaging of their binding sites. Nature Communications, 5: 4495. doi:10.1038/ncomms5495.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-65DB-F
Abstract
Detection of single analyte molecules without the use of any label would improve the sensitivity of current biosensors by orders of magnitude to the ultimate graininess of biological matter. Over two decades, scientists have succeeded in pushing the limits of optical detection to single molecules using fluorescence. However, restrictions in photophysics and labelling protocols make this technique less attractive for biosensing. Recently, mechanisms based on vibrational spectroscopy, photothermal detection, plasmonics and microcavities have been explored for fluorescence-free detection of single biomolecules. Here, we show that interferometric detection of scattering (iSCAT) can achieve this goal in a direct and label-free fashion. In particular, we demonstrate detection of cancer marker proteins in buffer solution and in the presence of other abundant proteins. Furthermore, we present super-resolution imaging of protein binding with nanometer localization precision. The ease of iSCAT instrumentation promises a breakthrough for label-free studies of interactions involving proteins and other small biomolecules.