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Evaluating the performance of time-gated live-cell microscopy with lanthanide probes.

ABSTRACT: Probes and biosensors that incorporate luminescent Tb(III) or Eu(III) complexes are promising for cellular imaging because time-gated microscopes can detect their long-lifetime (approximately milliseconds) emission without interference from short-lifetime (approximately nanoseconds) fluorescence background. Moreover, the discrete, narrow emission bands of Tb(III) complexes make them uniquely suited for multiplexed imaging applications because they can serve as Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) donors to two or more differently colored acceptors. However, lanthanide complexes have low photon emission rates that can limit the image signal/noise ratio, which has a square-root dependence on photon counts. This work describes the performance of a wide-field, time-gated microscope with respect to its ability to image Tb(III) luminescence and Tb(III)-mediated FRET in cultured mammalian cells. The system employed a UV-emitting LED for low-power, pulsed excitation and an intensified CCD camera for gated detection. Exposure times of ?1 s were needed to collect 5-25 photons per pixel from cells that contained micromolar concentrations of a Tb(III) complex. The observed photon counts matched those predicted by a theoretical model that incorporated the photophysical properties of the Tb(III) probe and the instrument's light-collection characteristics. Despite low photon counts, images of Tb(III)/green fluorescent protein FRET with a signal/noise ratio ? 7 were acquired, and a 90% change in the ratiometric FRET signal was measured. This study shows that the sensitivity and precision of lanthanide-based cellular microscopy can approach that of conventional FRET microscopy with fluorescent proteins. The results should encourage further development of lanthanide biosensors that can measure analyte concentration, enzyme activation, and protein-protein interactions in live cells.

SUBMITTER: Rajendran M 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4621812 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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