Live-cell super-resolved PAINT imaging of piconewton cellular traction forces

Academic Article


  • Despite the vital role of mechanical forces in biology, it still remains a challenge to image cellular force with sub-100-nm resolution. Here, we present tension points accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (tPAINT), integrating molecular tension probes with the DNA points accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (DNA-PAINT) technique to map piconewton mechanical events with ~25-nm resolution. To perform live-cell dynamic tension imaging, we engineered reversible probes with a cryptic docking site revealed only when the probe experiences forces exceeding a defined mechanical threshold (~7–21 pN). Additionally, we report a second type of irreversible tPAINT probe that exposes its cryptic docking site permanently and thus integrates force history over time, offering improved spatial resolution in exchange for temporal dynamics. We applied both types of tPAINT probes to map integrin receptor forces in live human platelets and mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Importantly, tPAINT revealed a link between platelet forces at the leading edge of cells and the dynamic actin-rich ring nucleated by the Arp2/3 complex.
  • Published In

  • Nature methods  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Brockman JM; Su H; Blanchard AT; Duan Y; Meyer T; Quach ME; Glazier R; Bazrafshan A; Bender RL; Kellner AV
  • Start Page

  • 1018
  • End Page

  • 1024
  • Volume

  • 17
  • Issue

  • 10