Quantitative Chemical Imaging in Living Systems

Our lab has generated a highly versatile functional imaging platform that utilizes DNA nanotechnology to chemically map sub-cellular structures known as organelles. We seek to answer fundamental questions such as how the chemical composition of an organelle, which has been optimized over evolutionary timescales, impacts its function at the sub-cellular level. How do these changes alter cell function, tissue function, and organism physiology? We utilize bionanotechnology to investigate these questions by exploiting our understanding of cellular machinery to develop solutions to problems in science and engineering. Our research takes advantage of nucleic acid structure and dynamics to create DNA-based nanodevices for quantitative chemical imaging of living systems.


Implementation of Ion Sensors in Organelles


  • Lysosome

  • Lysosomes are organelles responsible for the breakdown of biological material within cellular environments. Our work has led to the characterization of lysosomal lumenal pH and chloride, as well as reactive species such as hypochlorous acid (HOCL). Recently, we have uncovered sodium and calcium levels, as well as elucidated a mechanism for calcium entry.
  • Endosome

  • Lysosomes are organelles responsible for the breakdown of biological material within cellular environments. Our work has led to the characterization of lysosomal lumenal pH and chloride, as well as reactive species such as hypochlorous acid (HOCL). Recently, we have uncovered sodium and calcium levels, as well as elucidated a mechanism for calcium entry.
  • Yamuna Krishnan

    Email: yamuna@uchicago.edu
    2014 - Professor, University of Chicago
    2014: Assoc Professor, National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)
    2009-13: Reader, NCBS, Bangalore
    2005-9: Fellow, NCBS, Bangalore
    2001-05: 1851 Research Fellowship, University of Cambridge, UK
    2002: Ph. D., Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore,
    1997: M.S., IISc, Bangalore,
    1993: B. Sc. Madras University
    Our lab loves exploring the rich chemistry within the living cell’s myriad reaction vessels – its organelles. How does the lumenal chemical composition of an organelle – that has been optimized over evolutionary timescales – drive the biochemistry that occurs within to impact organelle function, thereby cell function, then tissue function and finally, organism physiology? To answer this, we build quantitative chemical maps of organelle lumens using the tools of bionanotechnology. Evolution has produced an overwhelming number and variety of biological devices that function at the nanoscale or molecular level. Bionanotechnology exploits our understanding of cellular machinery to develop solutions to problems in science and engineering. Our research exploits nucleic acid structure and dynamics to create DNA-based nanodevices for quantitative chemical imaging of living systems.