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Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology

HIV taken by STORM: Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy of a viral infection

Cândida F Pereira234, Jérémie Rossy1, Dylan M Owen1, Johnson Mak256* and Katharina Gaus1*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Vascular Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

2 Centre for Virology, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia

3 Monash Micro Imaging, Clayton, Australia

4 Department of Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Australia

5 School of Medicine, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia

6 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Geelong, Australia

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:84  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-84

Published: 2 May 2012



The visualization of viral proteins has been hindered by the resolution limit of conventional fluorescent microscopes, as the dimension of any single fluorescent signal is often greater than most virion particles. Super-resolution microscopy has the potential to unveil the distribution of proteins at the resolution approaching electron microscopy without relying on morphological features of existing characteristics of the biological specimen that are needed in EM.


Using direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) to achieve a lateral resolution of 15–20 nm, we quantified the 2-D molecular distribution of the major structural proteins of the infectious human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) before and after infection of lymphoid cells. We determined that the HIV-1 matrix and capsid proteins undergo restructuring soon after HIV-1 infection.


This study provides the proof-of-concept for the use of dSTORM to visualize the changes in the molecular distribution of viral proteins during an infection.

HIV; Super-resolution microscopy; Electron microscopy; Viruses; Dynamic movement; Protein rearrangement