Spontaneously blinking fluorophores for accelerated MINFLUX nanoscopy
Michael Remmel, Lukas Scheiderer, Alexey N. Butkevich, Mariano L. Bossi, Stefan W. Hell
Spontaneously blinking fluorophores, a class of molecules switching rapidly between a dark and a brightly emitting state, have emerged as a popular core to build fluorescent markers for super-resolution microscopy. With typical on-times in the order of tens of milliseconds, they are most suitable for STORM and related nanoscopy methods. Recent MINFLUX nanoscopy, however, can localize molecules even within a millisecond and achieve an up to ten times higher localization precision. Here, we present a series of spontaneous blinkers with short on-times (1-3 ms) matching MINFLUX recording time-scales. Our design builds upon a silicon rhodamine fluorescent core with a modified thiophene- or a benzothiophene-fused spirolactam fragment, which shifts the spirocyclization equilibrium toward the dark closed form at physiological conditions, imparting cell permeability. Concurrently, we obtain a highly photostable, short-lived open form with bright red emission. Characterizing the blinking behavior of single fluorophores bound to three different protein tags (antibodies, nanobodies, and HaloTag self-labeling enzyme) allowed us to select the best candidate for MINFLUX microscopy. The short on-times speed up MINFLUX localization by up to 30-fold.