Department of Chemical Sciences
School of Natural Sciences

Imaging Protein Dynamics at Work

Research Highlight5

Biology works by apparently simple principles but with very complex structures. Associated with complex structures are the ‘dynamics’ of these macromolecules which make the biological world. As Richard Feynman said, ‘Biology is all about wiggling and jiggling of atoms’.

Molecular fluorescence, when observed with a time resolution of a few picoseconds, becomes a powerful tool for revealing the ‘wiggling and jiggling’ which makes the biological world ‘living’. With the state-of-the-art laser technology available today one can observe dynamics of molecules in ultrafast timescales with high sensitivity and selectivity. High sensitivity of molecular fluorescence is shown by the capability to ‘see’ a single molecule. The high selectivity enables us to see either a single type of molecule or only a specific segment in a molecular complex in its natural environment having thousands of molecular types in various compartments such as the scenario in a living cell.

In our laboratory we, in collaboration with our biology colleagues, study a variety of systems with an ultimate aim of learning the connection between dynamics and activity. We cover areas such as protein dynamics, protein folding dynamics, DNA dynamics, DNA-protein interactions and dynamics in single living cells. More information about our methods and activities in this area can be found here.