FIP IN-PERSON Seminar for Student Speaker Award "Real-Time 3D Tracking and Imaging Microscopy Captures Early Events of the Virus-Cell Interaction"

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Wed, 02/23/2022 - 12:00 to 13:00

Courtney Johnson


Courtney Johnson, Chemistry Phd Candidate, Duke University

Single-particle tracking methods have shifted the landscape of physical virology from bulk methods requiring ensemble averaging to the single virus level, yielding new quantitative information about the virus infection process. However, existing methods are unable to study the critical extracellular phase of this process. In this phase, where the virus diffuses to meet the cell surface, the disparate spatial scales between viruses and cells, combined with the rapid motion of viruses makes studying their interaction speed an impossible task for any single microscope. 

Here we present 3D Tracking and Imaging microscopy (3D-TrIm): a multi-modal solution that simultaneously acquires co-registered volumes featuring the trajectories of fluorescent virus-like particles (VSV-G pseudotyped lentivirus) and two-photon volumetric images of the surrounding live-cell environment. This approach yields an unprecedented 3D view into the interaction of virions at the cellular interface. Using this method we tracked virus-like particles both inside and outside of the cell, from first contacts with the cell membrane to intracellular trafficking and into multi-layer epithelial tissue. 

Courtney Johnson earned her B.S. in Chemistry from Texas Woman’s University and is currently a Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate in the lab of Prof. Kevin Welsher at Duke University where she develops new methods for 3D live-cell microscopy. As a founding member of the Welsher Lab, Courtney spearheaded development of 3D-FASTR, a new method for 3D Point-Scan Microscopy, and led development of the multi-modal 3D-TrIm microscope for visualizing virus-cell interactions, all from an empty optical table. Outside her research, she holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.