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Brockman, Joshua M.; Su, Hanquan; Blanchard, Aaron T.; Duan, Yuxin; Meyer, Travis; Quach, M. Edward; Glazier, Roxanne; Bazrafshan, Alisina; Bender, Rachel L.; Kellner, Anna V.; Ogasawara, Hiroaki; Ma, Rong; Schueder, Florian; Petrich, Brian G.; Jungmann, Ralf; Li, Renhao; Mattheyses, Alexa L.; Ke, Yonggang; Salaita, Khalid (2020): Live-cell super-resolved PAINT imaging of piconewton cellular traction forces. In: Nature Methods, Vol. 17, No. 10: pp. 1018-1024
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Despite the vital role of mechanical forces in biology, it still remains a challenge to image cellular force with sub-100-nm resolution. Here, we present tension points accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (tPAINT), integrating molecular tension probes with the DNA points accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (DNA-PAINT) technique to map piconewton mechanical events with similar to 25-nm resolution. To perform live-cell dynamic tension imaging, we engineered reversible probes with a cryptic docking site revealed only when the probe experiences forces exceeding a defined mechanical threshold (similar to 7-21 pN). Additionally, we report a second type of irreversible tPAINT probe that exposes its cryptic docking site permanently and thus integrates force history over time, offering improved spatial resolution in exchange for temporal dynamics. We applied both types of tPAINT probes to map integrin receptor forces in live human platelets and mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Importantly, tPAINT revealed a link between platelet forces at the leading edge of cells and the dynamic actin-rich ring nucleated by the Arp2/3 complex.