Super-Resolution Microscopes

Virology Studies

Gain new insight into viral particle structure, virus host interactions, virus pathology, and more

The Best Fluorescence Technique for Imaging Virus Particles and Components

The Vutara VXL single-molecule localization system has been a critical instrument for understanding viral particles in a variety of research labs. Historically, technology such as confocal and electron microscopy have struggled with obtaining high-resolution images that give key information on how different viruses act and move within a cell because viral particles are typically much smaller than the diffraction limit of light (<200 nm). However, super-resolution microscopy and single molecule localization (SML) provides the resolution needed for the typical size of viruses, which is 20nm to 500nm; making SML the best suited fluorescence technique for resolving virus particle structural details or determining localization of virus components with the cellular machinery.

Key Vutara VXL features that enable the compelling use of super-resolution microscopy in virology are:

  • The only 3D single-molecule system capable of imaging multiple sample types from purified virions to tissue sections and whole model organisms;
  • High-speed acquisition: ideal for live imaging, particle tracking and rapid data acquisition; and
  • Integrated fluidics: multiplexed imaging of the proteome, viral genome, or live-cell applications.

Why Study Viruses with Fluorescence Microscopy?

Fluorescence microscopy, such as Bruker’s super-resolution and light-sheet solutions, equip researchers with the technology needed to image a virus at any phase of their life cycle.

Understanding how a virus behaves at different stages within their life cycle can give key insights into real-world implications on many of the diseases that affect mammalian life.
The Vutara VXL can support research studying:

  • COVID-19
  • Influenza
  • Ebola
  • Bovine Alpha herpesvirus 1
  • Rhinovirus

Vutara VXL Virus Applications

Below we highlight virus research performed on the Vutara VXL. The unique ability to perform single-molecule localization of virus samples at both the coverslip and deep within tissue sections makes the Vutara VXL the only system capable of imaging virus particle structures, virus particle host cell interactions, and effects of virus infection on cell biology on the same microscope. Below you will find 5 applications of researchers’ using our technology in their lab.

Vutara VXL Viral Studies

  • Virus Host interactions
  • Virus RNA interactions
  • RNA replication sites
  • Virus pathology

Identification and Quantification of Viral Proteins and Virion Structures

Using the Vutara 200 microscope, Hodges, et al. wanted to investigate how different proteins localized throughout the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) – a RNA virus with one tapered and one blunt end. Proteins were labeled with eGFP and their total fluorescence intensity and the position of their center of fluorescence, with respect to the center of the envelope, was determined. They found that

  • G protein was uniformly distributed on the surface of the virion
  • P and L proteins were packaged asymmetrically at the blunt end of the virion

Identification and Quantification of Free Virus Particles

Identification and Quantification of Virus-Host Interactions at Single-Cell Level

Myeloid dendritic cells (DCs) are important to elicit a potent antiviral immunity and can capture HIV-1 via the receptor CD169/Siglec-1 that binds to the ganglioside, GM3, in the virus particle membrane. This research group utilized the Vutara 200 microscope, to investigate the role of CD169 in HIV-1 trafficking and trans-infection.

Using super-resolution microscopy, they revealed:

  • In a LPS induced cell, CD169 and HIV-1 accumulated in pocket-like compartments
  • LPS and IFN-α can both upregulate CD169 expression
  • HIV virions were closely associated with CD169

The general life cycle of a virus follows the process of attachment, penetration, uncoating, gene expression/replication, assembly, and release. However, viruses have different methods to undergo viral membrane fusion (entry) and will translocate and express their genome at different rates and manners. Therefore, an in-depth visualization and understanding of how different viruses interact with their host cells, provided by super-resolution microscopy, will give researchers invaluable tools for the effect of these viruses on their hosts. 

Monitoring Infection Dynamics

In this study, the authors investigated the temporal progression of events in virally infected cells using the Vutara 200 microscope. Motivated by the ability to analyze large populations of infected cells despite the heterogeneity of viruses and their hosts, they utilized flow cytometry to study Mimivirus and Acanthamoeba polyphaga. Their work found:

  • Microtubule network became more fragmented and disappeared from the center of the cell
  • Actin cytoskeleton lost its fine structure at the periphery of the cell and formed a shell around the cell edge.

Bruker’s super-resolution fluorescence microscopy solutions are unique in their ability to provide the tools, resolution, and post-processing ability to capture the progression and distribution of infection for a variety of experiments that analyze:

  • Early stages of infection
  • Spatio-temporal investigation of viral replication/propagation of infection
  • Lytic or persistent infection (quantify the abundance of free viruses released during cell lysis)
  • Distribution of infected cells in their tissue environment

Use of Viruses for Therapeutic Intervention

To study the prevention of the respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) infection, this research group used the Vutara 352 microscope to analyze their mRNA-based approach to express antibodies for hRSV in humans. Using the Vutara for both widefield and super-resolution imaging, the authors found:

  • aPali is on the epithelial cell surface and can prevent RSV infection
  • Data suggests that expressing membrane-anchored broadly neutralizing antibodies in the lungs could potentially be a promising pulmonary prophylaxis approach.

Advancing with Viral Research Needs

Super-Resolution Florescence Microscopy offers many unique advantages to other microscopy techniques, such as confocal and electron, by giving the user the ability and specificity to track single molecules in live settings. Specifically, the Bruker Vutara VXL provides:

  • The resolution needed for the typical size of viruses (20nm to 500nm)
  • Propriety biplane technology that achieves at least 20 nm XY and 50 nm Z precision
  • Powerful visualization and analysis software package provides a complete statistics tool set.


Still have questions about SMLM for EV research? Contact us. We will be happy to connect you with a super-resolution microscopy expert.

Our Fluorescence Microscopy Solutions

Super-Resolution MicroscopesVutara VXL Single-Molecule Localization Microscope for Viral Research