High-density single-particle tracking: quantifying molecule organization and dynamics at the nanoscale
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The organization and dynamics of proteins are fundamental parameters for cellular function. Their study, at the single-molecule level, provides precise information on molecular interactions. Over the last 30 years, the single-particle tracking imaging technique has proven its capability to efficiently quantify such parameters in many biological systems, with nanometric accuracy and millisecond temporal resolutions. Nevertheless, the low concentration of labeling required for single-molecule imaging usually prevents the extraction of large statistics. The advent of high-density single-molecule-based super-resolution techniques has revolutionized the field, allowing monitoring of thousands of biomolecules in the minute timescale and providing unprecedented insight into the molecular organization and dynamics of cellular compounds. In this issue, I will review the main principles of single-particle tracking, a highly interdisciplinary technique at the interface between microscopy, image analysis and labeling strategies. I will point out the advantages brought by high-density single-particle tracking which will be illustrated with a few recent biological results.