The results were published online this month by Nature Biotechnology. “This is only a first step to a better understanding of what’s really going on,” Wachsmuth says. He notes that his group is forging ahead on more detailed studies, including two-color imaging that will let them view interactions of different types of molecules.
“It’s an important paper, and a big step forward, but it leaves open a question: What does it all mean?” says John Sedat, a biophysicist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved with the research. A complication of this work and other recent research in the same vein, he says, is that the technique requires a great deal of light. “To what extent are the photons you’re using disturbing the biology?” Sedat says. The protein movements documented in the paper might describe the cell’s true biology, or they might instead be an artifact caused by flooding the cell with too much light.
But it’s a good start. “It’s inside of a cell, which is important, because that’s where all the biology is,” Sedat says. “It’s not the highest magnification, not the highest resolution, but that’s not important to start with. All biology is occurring at these scales, and you can probably answer a huge number of biological questions if you have the spatial and time resolution these researchers and others getting.”