Investigating cellular structures at the nanoscale with organic fluorophores

Chem Biol. 2013 Jan 24;20(1):8-18. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2012.11.004.


Super-resolution fluorescence imaging can provide insights into cellular structure and organization with a spatial resolution approaching virtually electron microscopy. Among all the different super-resolution methods single-molecule-based localization microscopy could play an exceptional role in the future because it can provide quantitative information, for example, the absolute number of biomolecules interacting in space and time. Here, small organic fluorophores are a decisive factor because they exhibit high fluorescence quantum yields and photostabilities, thus enabling their localization with nanometer precision. Besides past progress, problems with high-density and specific labeling, especially in living cells, and the lack of suited standards and long-term continuous imaging methods with minimal photodamage render the exploitation of the full potential of the method currently challenging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cellular Structures / ultrastructure*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Optical Imaging / methods*


  • Fluorescent Dyes