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      Evaluation of fluorophores for optimal performance in localization-based super-resolution imaging

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          One approach to super-resolution fluorescence imaging uses sequential activation and localization of individual fluorophores to achieve high spatial resolution. Essential to this technique is the choice of fluorescent probes — the properties of the probes, including photons per switching event, on/off duty cycle, photostability, and number of switching cycles, largely dictate the quality of super-resolution images. While many probes have been reported, a systematic characterization of the properties of these probes and their impact on super-resolution image quality has been described in only a few cases. Here, we quantitatively characterized the switching properties of 26 organic dyes and directly related these properties to the quality of super-resolution images. This analysis provides a set of guidelines for characterization of super-resolution probes and a resource for selecting probes based on performance. Our evaluation identified several photoswitchable dyes with good to excellent performance in four independent spectral ranges, with which we demonstrated low crosstalk, four-color super-resolution imaging.

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          Most cited references 58

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          Imaging intracellular fluorescent proteins at nanometer resolution.

          We introduce a method for optically imaging intracellular proteins at nanometer spatial resolution. Numerous sparse subsets of photoactivatable fluorescent protein molecules were activated, localized (to approximately 2 to 25 nanometers), and then bleached. The aggregate position information from all subsets was then assembled into a superresolution image. We used this method--termed photoactivated localization microscopy--to image specific target proteins in thin sections of lysosomes and mitochondria; in fixed whole cells, we imaged vinculin at focal adhesions, actin within a lamellipodium, and the distribution of the retroviral protein Gag at the plasma membrane.
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            Sub-diffraction-limit imaging by stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM).

            We have developed a high-resolution fluorescence microscopy method based on high-accuracy localization of photoswitchable fluorophores. In each imaging cycle, only a fraction of the fluorophores were turned on, allowing their positions to be determined with nanometer accuracy. The fluorophore positions obtained from a series of imaging cycles were used to reconstruct the overall image. We demonstrated an imaging resolution of 20 nm. This technique can, in principle, reach molecular-scale resolution.
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              Ultra-high resolution imaging by fluorescence photoactivation localization microscopy.

              Biological structures span many orders of magnitude in size, but far-field visible light microscopy suffers from limited resolution. A new method for fluorescence imaging has been developed that can obtain spatial distributions of large numbers of fluorescent molecules on length scales shorter than the classical diffraction limit. Fluorescence photoactivation localization microscopy (FPALM) analyzes thousands of single fluorophores per acquisition, localizing small numbers of them at a time, at low excitation intensity. To control the number of visible fluorophores in the field of view and ensure that optically active molecules are separated by much more than the width of the point spread function, photoactivatable fluorescent molecules are used, in this case the photoactivatable green fluorescent protein (PA-GFP). For these photoactivatable molecules, the activation rate is controlled by the activation illumination intensity; nonfluorescent inactive molecules are activated by a high-frequency (405-nm) laser and are then fluorescent when excited at a lower frequency. The fluorescence is imaged by a CCD camera, and then the molecules are either reversibly inactivated or irreversibly photobleached to remove them from the field of view. The rate of photobleaching is controlled by the intensity of the laser used to excite the fluorescence, in this case an Ar+ ion laser. Because only a small number of molecules are visible at a given time, their positions can be determined precisely; with only approximately 100 detected photons per molecule, the localization precision can be as much as 10-fold better than the resolution, depending on background levels. Heterogeneities on length scales of the order of tens of nanometers are observed by FPALM of PA-GFP on glass. FPALM images are compared with images of the same molecules by widefield fluorescence. FPALM images of PA-GFP on a terraced sapphire crystal surface were compared with atomic force microscopy and show that the full width at half-maximum of features approximately 86 +/- 4 nm is significantly better than the expected diffraction-limited optical resolution. The number of fluorescent molecules and their brightness distribution have also been determined using FPALM. This new method suggests a means to address a significant number of biological questions that had previously been limited by microscope resolution.

                Author and article information

                Nat Methods
                Nat. Methods
                Nature Methods
                8 November 2011
                06 November 2011
                01 June 2012
                : 8
                : 12
                : 1027-1036
                [1 ]Graduate program in Biophysics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
                [2 ]Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
                [3 ]Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
                [4 ]School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
                [5 ]Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
                Author notes
                [* ]To whom correspondence should be addressed. zhuang@

                These authors contributed equally to this work.


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                Funded by: National Institute of General Medical Sciences : NIGMS
                Award ID: R01 GM068518-06A1 || GM

                Life sciences


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