Project 08

Quantitative super-resolution microscopy unravels nanoscale patterns of membrane receptor networks

Principle Investigator: Prof. Dr. Mike Heilemann

Research Areas: Structural cell biology


We investigate the structure-function relationships of membrane-associated protein assemblies in the natural environment of a cell. We decipher the composition of multiprotein membrane receptor complexes which build active signaling platforms and characterize protein-protein interactions that regulate information transmission. To this end, we employ super-resolution optical microscopy methods to visualize the structural organization and to quantify the composition of multiprotein assemblies at the plasma membrane of cells. We will capture the assembly dynamics in living cells.

Prof. Dr. Mike Heilemann

Steering Board of the CRC 1507

Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

Goethe University, Frankfurt



  1. Weinelt N, Karathanasis C, Smith S, Medler J, Malkusch S, Fulda S, Wajant H, Heilemann M, van Wijk SJL (2021) Quantitative single-molecule imaging of TNFR1 reveals zafirlukast as antagonist of TNFR1 clustering and TNFα-induced NF-KB signaling. J Leukoc Biol. 109: 363-371
  2. Baldering TN, Karathanasis C, Harwardt MIE, Freund P, Meurer M, Rahm JV, Knop M, Dietz MS, Heilemann M (2020) CRISPR/Cas12a-mediated labeling of MET receptor enables quantitative single-molecule imaging of endogenous protein organization and dynamics. iScience 24: 1369-1376
  3. Karathanasis C, Medler J, Fricke F, Smith S, Malkusch S, Widera D, Fulda S, Wajant H, van Wijk SJL, Dikic I, Heilemann M (2020) Single-molecule imaging reveals the oligomeric state of functional TNFalpha-induced plasma membrane TNFR1 clusters in cells. Sci Signal 13: eaax5647
  4. Moller J, Isbilir A, Sungkaworn T, Osberg B, Karathanasis C, Sunkara V, Grushevskyi EO, Bock A, Annibale P, Heilemann M, Schutte C, Lohse MJ (2020) Single-molecule analysis reveals agonist-specific dimer formation of micro-opioid receptors. Nat Chem Biol 16: 946-954
  5. Schroder MS, Harwardt MIE, Rahm JV, Li Y, Freund P, Dietz MS, Heilemann M (2020) Imaging the fibroblast growth factor receptor network on the plasma membrane with DNA-assisted single-molecule super-resolution microscopy. Methods S1046-2023: 30024-4
  1. Harwardt MIE, Schroder MS, Li Y, Malkusch S, Freund P, Gupta S, Janjic N, Strauss S, Jungmann R, Dietz MS, Heilemann M (2020) Single-molecule super-resolution microscopy reveals heteromeric complexes of MET and EGFR upon ligand activation. Int J Mol Sci 21: 2803
  2. Spahn C, Hurter F, Glaesmann M, Karathanasis C, Lampe M, Heilemann M (2019) Protein-specific, multicolor and 3D STED imaging in cells with DNA-labeled antibodies. Angew Chem Int Eng Ed 58: 18835-18838
  3. Dietz MS, Wehrheim SS, Harwardt MIE, Niemann HH, Heilemann M (2019) Competitive Binding study revealing the influence of fluorophore labels on biomolecular interactions. Nano Lett 19: 8245-8249
  4. Dietz MS, Heilemann M (2019) Optical super-resolution microscopy unravels the molecular composition of functional protein complexes. Nanoscale 11: 17981-17991
  5. Baldering TN, Dietz MS, Gatterdam K, Karathanasis C, Wieneke R, Tampé R, Heilemann M (2019) Synthetic and genetic dimers as quantification ruler for single-molecule counting with PALM. Mol Biol Cell 30: 1369-1376