Photoswitchable Fluorescent Probes for Localization-Based Super-Resolution Imaging

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Photoswitchable Fluorescent Probes for Localization-Based Super-Resolution Imaging

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Title: Photoswitchable Fluorescent Probes for Localization-Based Super-Resolution Imaging
Author: Dempsey, Graham Thomas
Citation: Dempsey, Graham Thomas. 2012. Photoswitchable Fluorescent Probes for Localization-Based Super-Resolution Imaging. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: In recent years, localization-based super-resolution imaging has been developed to overcome the diffraction limit of far-field fluorescence microscopy. Photoswitchable probes are a hallmark of this technique. Their fluorescence can be modulated between an emissive and dark state whereby the sequential, nanoscale measurement of individual fluorophore positions can be used to reconstruct an image at higher spatial resolution. Despite the importance of photoswitchable probes for localization-based super-resolution imaging, both a mechanistic and quantitative understanding of the essential photoswitching properties is lacking for most fluorophores. In this thesis, we begin to address this need. Furthermore, we demonstrate the development of new probes and methodologies for both multicolor and live-cell super-resolution imaging. Chapter 2 describes our mechanistic insights into the photoswitching of a common class of dyes called carbocyanines. Red carbocyanines, such as Cy5, enter a long-lived dark state upon illumination with red light in the presence of a primary thiol. We show that the dark state is a covalent conjugate between the thiol and dye and that this dark state recovers by illumination with ultraviolet light. We also speculate on possible reactivation mechanisms. Our mechanistic studies may ultimately lead to the creation of new probes with improved photoswitching properties. Chapter 3 details our quantitative characterization of the photoswitching properties of 26 organic dyes, including carbocyanines and several other structural classes. We define the essential properties of photoswitchable probes, including photons per switching event, on/off duty cycle, photostability, and number of switching cycles, and demonstrate how these properties dictate super-resolution image quality. This rigorous evaluation will enable more effective use of probes. In Chapters 4 and 5, we focus on expanding the super-resolution toolbox with novel strategies for multicolor and live-cell imaging. Chapter 4 discusses two approaches we have developed for multicolor super-resolution imaging, which distinguish probes based on either the color of activation or emission light. These tools allow multiple cellular targets to be resolved with high spatial resolution. Lastly, Chapter 5 introduces a method for targeted cellular labeling with photoswitchable probes using a small peptide tag, as well as a new sulfonate-protection strategy for intracellular delivery of high performing photoswitchable dyes.
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