Imaging inside cells with nanoparticles – a BBSRC-sponsored summer project

Hello! My name is Charlotte Dawson, I’ve just completed my second year studying Biochemistry at the University of Liverpool. Over summer I’m undertaking a 10 week research experience placement funded by the BBSRC, co-supervised by Dr Raphael Levy and Dr Violaine Sée.

The aim of my summer project is to contribute to the development of single molecule imaging inside cells using gold nanoparticles as probes. The project builds on from the work of a masters student last year. We will use photothermal microscopy to detect the nanoparticles. Photothermal microscopy exploits the absorption properties of non-fluorescent materials in order to image them. This is achieved by detecting temperature changes following the excitation of the gold nanoparticles using lasers. Further information about photothermal microscopy can be found on Dr Frank Cichos‘s lab page.

Before we can carry out any imaging, the nanoparticles first have to be introduced into cells and they also have to be targeted to the protein of interest.

Getting the nanoparticles into the cells is achieved using microinjection. During microinjection a glass micropipette is used to deliver a desired substance (in this case a suspension of gold nanoparticles) into single cells.

Targeting the nanoparticles to the protein of interest requires the use of specific nanobodies. These nanobodies are single domain antibodies obtained from camalids (camels, llamas, and alpacas etc). For the purposes of this project, the nanobodies being used are specific to Hypoxia Inducible Factor (to be discussed in a later post).

Throughout this summer placement I will share on this blog the experiments I conduct (design, protocols, results, analysis, discussion).


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