Super-Beacons: open-source probes with spontaneous tuneable blinking compatible with live-cell super-resolution microscopy

Pedro M Pereira, Nils Gustafsson, Mark Marsh, Musa M Mhlanga, Ricardo Henriques (see publication in Journal )


Localization based super-resolution microscopy relies on the detection of individual molecules cycling between fluorescent and non-fluorescent states. These transitions are commonly regulated by high-intensity illumination, imposing constrains to imaging hardware and producing sample photodamage. Here, we propose single-molecule self-quenching as a mechanism to generate spontaneous photoswitching independent of illumination. To demonstrate this principle, we developed a new class of DNA-based open-source Super-Resolution probes named Super-Beacons, with photoswitching kinetics that can be tuned structurally, thermally and chemically. The potential of these probes for live-cell friendly Super-Resolution Microscopy without high-illumination or toxic imaging buffers is revealed by imaging Interferon Inducible Transmembrane proteins (IFITMs) at sub-100nm resolutions.