Fluorescence lifetime imaging to study DNA compaction and gene activities

Optical imaging is useful to investigate the structure and function of cellular genomes, but it is nevertheless challenging to image the immensely convoluted and irregular compacted DNA polymer. In a new report now published on Nature, Light: Science & Applications, Svitlana M. Levchenko and a team of researchers in China, Poland, and the U.S., developed fluorescence life-time imaging (FLIM) to advance the genomic structure during DNA compaction. During the work, they used two mechanisms, where one relied on the local refractive index of fluorescence probes incorporated into DNA, and the other relied on the Forster resonance energy transfer process (FRET) between the donor and acceptor fluorophores, also incorporated into the DNA. The team validated the proposed mechanisms using cell culture to reveal a significant difference in gene-rich and gene-poor pools of genomic DNA.

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