1. Developing superresolution microscopy as a readout of protein function
Most cellular functions are executed by the concerted interaction in time and space of several proteins in complexes. By combining several proteins with different functional domains, the gene products of a limited genome can execute the wealth of functions that is required to build and maintain higher functions of cell and organism.
While by now many individual protein-protein interactions are well understood, it is still unclear how multiprotein complexes are assembled from their components in cells and how their spatial organization relates to their function.
A novel approach to this problem may come from the recently developed single molecule localization-based superresolution-microscopy methods. These allow the determination of the exact position of hundreds of thousands of individual molecules with nanometer precision in cells. In first proof-of-principle experiments, these techniques have been used to investigate the spatial arrangement of proteins in important structures such as the focal adhesion: