By looking at a fluorescently labeled structure one molecule at a time, it is possible to side-step the optical diffraction limit and obtain "super-resolution" images of small nanostructures. In the Moerner Lab, we seek to develop both molecules and methods to extend super-resolution fluorescence imaging. Methodologies and protocols for designing and characterizing fluorophores with switchable fluorescence required for super-resolution imaging are reported. These fluorophores include azido-DCDHF molecules, covalently linked Cy3-Cy5 dimers, and also the first example of a photoswitchable fluorescent protein, enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (EYFP). The imaging of protein superstructures in living Caulobacter crescentus bacteria is used as an example of the power of super-resolution imaging by single-molecule photoswitching to extract information beyond the diffraction limit. Finally, a new method is described for obtaining three-dimensional super-resolution information using a double-helix point-spread function.
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