Single Molecule Spectroscopy of Gene Machines

Group Leaders:

Living cells carry thousands of nanomachines that assemble, disassemble, transport or process biomolecules. We study machines of gene expression, which is the path that leads from genes on DNA to functional proteins; we also study machines of DNA replication and DNA repair, which are processes responsible for maintaining the all-important integrity of the information stored in our DNA. Our favourite biological machines are DNA polymerase (which copies DNA to DNA) and RNA polymerase (which copies DNA to RNA), and our favourite model organism is the bacterium E. coli.

Our main experimental tool is single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy and imaging, which forms an expanding family of methods that localize single molecules with high precision, measure nanometre-scale distances within molecules and study molecular interactions in real time, both "in vitro" and in living cells. We are actively involved in developing these methods and adding them to novel instruments and biosensing assays. We are particularly interested in "super-resolution" imaging methods that are revolutionizing microscopy by breaking the diffraction limit in optical microscopy and providing us with high-resolution views of our machines in living cells.

As a result of the nature of challenges we face in our research, our work is highly multidisciplinary, combining optics, spectroscopy, biochemistry, molecular biology, molecular modelling, image analysis and signal processing. For more information, see our group website (see link below).