Tracking surface glycans on live cancer cells with single-molecule sensitivity

Hao Jiang, Brian P. English, Rachel B. Hazan, Peng Wu, Ben Ovryn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Using a combination of metabolically labeled glycans, a bioorthogonal copper(I)-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition, and the controlled bleaching of fluorescent probes conjugated to azide- or alkyne-tagged glycans, a sufficiently low spatial density of dye-labeled glycans was achieved, enabling dynamic single-molecule tracking and super-resolution imaging of N-linked sialic acids and O-linked N-acetyl galactosamine (GalNAc) on the membrane of live cells. Analysis of the trajectories of these dye-labeled glycans in mammary cancer cells revealed constrained diffusion of both N- and O-linked glycans, which was interpreted as reflecting the mobility of the glycan rather than to be caused by transient immobilization owing to spatial inhomogeneities on the plasma membrane. Stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) imaging revealed the structure of dynamic membrane nanotubes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1765-1769
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 9 2015


  • Click chemistry
  • Glycans
  • Membrane proteins
  • Single-molecule studies
  • Stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (storm)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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