TitleA Tunable Palette of Molecular Rotors Allows Multicolor, Ratiometric Fluorescence Imaging and Direct Mapping of Mitochondrial Heterogeneity.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsRaja SO, Sivaraman G, Biswas S, Singh G, Kalim F, Kandaswamy P, Gulyani A
JournalACS Appl Bio Mater
Date Published2021 May 17
KeywordsAnimals, Benzopyrans, Biocompatible Materials, Cells, Cultured, Fluorescent Dyes, Indoles, Materials Testing, Mice, Mitochondria, Molecular Structure, NIH 3T3 Cells, Optical Imaging, Particle Size

Environment-sensitive molecular probes offer the potential for a comprehensive mapping of the complex cellular milieu. We present here a radically new strategy of multiplexing highly sensitive, spectrally tuned fluorescent dyes for sensing cellular microenvironment. To achieve this multicolor, ratiometric cellular imaging, we first developed a series of highly sensitive, tunable molecular rotors for mitochondrial imaging, with emission wavelengths spanning the visible spectrum. These fluorogenic merocyanine dyes are all sensitive to solvent viscosity despite distinctive photophysical features. Our results show that merocyanine dyes can show a rotor-like behavior despite significant changes to the conventional donor-acceptor or push-pull scaffolds, thereby revealing conserved features of rotor dye chemistry. Developing closely related but spectrally separated dyes that have distinct response functions allows us to do ″two-color, two-dye″ imaging of the mitochondrial microenvironment. Our results with multidye, combinatorial imaging provide a direct visualization of the intrinsic heterogeneity of the mitochondrial microenvironment. The overall mitochondrial microenvironment (including contributions from local membrane order) as reported through two-color fluorescence ″ratio″ changes of multiplexed rotor dyes shows dynamic heterogeneity with distinct spatiotemporal signatures that evolve over time and respond to chemical perturbations. Our results offer a powerful illustration of how multiplexed dye imaging allows the quantitative imaging of mitochondrial membrane order and cellular microenvironment.

Alternate JournalACS Appl Bio Mater
PubMed ID35006848