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A Molecular Logic Gate Enables Single-Molecule Imaging and Tracking of Lipids in Intracellular Domains

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posted on 31.08.2020, 14:09 by Ádám Eördögh, Carolina Paganini, Dorothea Pinotsi, Paolo Arosio, Pablo Rivera-Fuentes
Photoactivatable dyes enable single-molecule imaging and tracking in biology. Despite progress in the development of new fluorophores and labeling strategies, many intracellular compartments remain difficult to image beyond the limit of diffraction in living cells. For example, lipid domains, e.g., membranes and droplets, remain difficult to image with nanometric resolution. To visualize these challenging subcellular targets, it is necessary to develop new fluorescent molecular devices beyond simple on/off switches. Here, we report a fluorogenic molecular logic gate that can be used to image single molecules associated with lipid domains, most notably droplets, with excellent specificity. This probe requires the subsequent action of light, a lipophilic environment, and a competent nucleophile to produce a fluorescent product. The combination of these inputs results in a probe that can be used to image the boundary of lipid droplets in three dimensions with resolution beyond the limit of diffraction. Moreover, this probe enables single-molecule tracking of lipid trafficking between droplets and the endoplasmic reticulum.