Dr. Peng Zou: Orange/far-red hybrid voltage indicators with reduced phototoxicity enable reliable long-term imaging in neurons and cardiomyocytes



Hybrid voltage indicators (HVIs) are chemogenetic sensors that combines the superior photophysical properties of organic dyes and the genetic targetability of protein sensors to report transient membrane voltage changes. They exhibit boosted sensitivity in excitable cells such as neurons and cardiomyocytes. However, the voltage signals recorded during long-term imaging are severely diminished or distorted due to phototoxicity and photobleaching issues. To capture stable electrophysiological activities over a long time, we employ cyanine dyes conjugated with a cyclooctatetraene (COT) molecule as the fluorescence reporter of HVI. The resulting orange-emitting HVI–COT–Cy3 enables high-fidelity voltage imaging for up to 30 min in cultured primary neurons with a sensitivity of ~ −30% ΔF/F0 per action potential (AP). It also maximally preserves the signal of individual APs in cardiomyocytes. The far-red-emitting HVI–COT–Cy5 allows two-color voltage/calcium imaging with GCaMP6s in neurons and cardiomyocytes for 15 min. We leverage the HVI–COT series with reduced phototoxicity and photobleaching to evaluate the impact of drug candidates on the electrophysiology of excitable cells.

Original link: https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2306950120