New imaging technique catches DNA ‘blinking’ on | Science News

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New imaging technique catches DNA ‘blinking’ on

Method avoids need for fluorescent dyes to see cellular molecules

By
10:39am, February 19, 2017
fluorescing dna

LIGHTING UP  When stimulated with light, DNA “blinks” on, making cellular structures (chromosome shown) visible without the need for fluorescent dyes.

BOSTON — A new imaging technique takes advantage of DNA’s natural ability to “blink” in response to stimulating light.  The new approach will allow unprecedented views of genetic material and other cellular players. It’s the first method to resolve features smaller than 10 nanometers in unmodified, live cells, biomedical engineer Vadim Backman said February 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

DNA and proteins don’t naturally give off light, conventional wisdom holds, so scientists have developed fluorescent dyes to attach to such molecules to make them visible in the darkness of a cell (SN: 6/5/13, p. 20). But Backman and Hao Zhang, both of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., discovered that when DNA is tickled with

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