A general design of caging-group-free photoactivatable fluorophores for live-cell nanoscopy
Lincoln, R., Bossi, M.L., Remmel, M., D’Este, E., Butkevich, A.N., Hell, S.W.
The controlled switching of fluorophores between non-fluorescent and fluorescent states is central to every super-resolution fluorescence microscopy (nanoscopy) technique, and the exploration of radically new switching mechanisms remains critical to boosting the performance of established, as well as emerging super-resolution methods. Photoactivatable dyes offer substantial improvements to many of these techniques, but often rely on photolabile protecting groups that limit their applications. Here we describe a general method to transform 3,6-diaminoxanthones into caging-group-free photoactivatable fluorophores. These photoactivatable xanthones (PaX) assemble rapidly and cleanly into highly fluorescent, photo- and chemically stable pyronine dyes upon irradiation with light. The strategy is extendable to carbon- and silicon-bridged xanthone analogues, yielding a family of photoactivatable labels spanning much of the visible spectrum. Our results demonstrate the versatility and utility of PaX dyes in fixed and live-cell labelling for conventional microscopy, as well as the coordinate-stochastic and deterministic nanoscopies STED, PALM and MINFLUX.