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Glembockyte, Viktorija; Wieneke, Ralph; Gatterdam, Karl; Gidi, Yasser; Tampe, Robert; Cosa, Gonzalo (2018): Tris-N-Nitrilotriacetic Acid Fluorophore as a Self-Healing Dye for Single-Molecule Fluorescence Imaging. In: Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol. 140, No. 35: pp. 11006-11012
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Abstract

The photostability of fluorescent labels comprises one of the main limitations in single-molecule fluorescence (SMF) and super-resolution imaging. An attractive strategy to increase the photostability of organic fluorophores relies on their coupling to photostabilizers, e.g., triplet excited state quenchers, rendering self-healing dyes. Herein we report the self-healing properties of trisNTA-Alexa647 fluorophores (NTA, N-nitrilotriacetic acid). Primarily designed to specifically label biomolecules containing an oligohistidine tag, we hypothesized that the increased effective concentration of Ni(II) triplet state quenchers would lead to their improved photostability. We evaluated photon output, survival time, and photon count rate of different Alexa647-labeled trisNTA constructs differing in the length and rigidity of the fluorophore-trisNTA linker. Maximum photon output enhancements of 25-fold versus Alexa647-DNA were recorded for a short tetraproline linker, superseding the solution based photostabilization by Ni(II). Steady-state and time-resolved studies illustrate that trisNTA self-healing role is associated with a dynamic excited triplet state quenching by Ni(II). Here improved photophysical/photochemical properties require for a judicious choice of linker length and rigidity, and in turn a balance between rapid dynamic triplet excited state quenching versus dynamic/static singlet excited state quenching. TrisNTA fluorophores offer superior properties for SMF allowing specific labeling and increased photostability, making them ideal candidates for extended single-molecule imaging techniques.