Polar red-emitting rhodamine dyes with reactive groups: synthesis, photophysical properties, and two-color STED nanoscopy applications
Authors: Kolmakov K, Wurm CA, Meineke DN, Göttfert F, Boyarskiy VP, Belov VN, Hell SW
CellNetworks People: Hell Stefan
Journal: Chemistry. 2014 Jan 3;20(1):146-57. doi: 10.1002/chem.201303433

The synthesis, reactivity, and photophysical properties of new rhodamines with intense red fluorescence, two polar residues (hydroxyls, primary phosphates, or sulfonic acid groups), and improved hydrolytic stability of the amino-reactive sites (NHS esters or mixed N-succinimidyl carbonates) are reported. All fluorophores contain an N-alkyl-1,2-dihydro-2,2,4-trimethylquinoline fragment, and most of them bear a fully substituted tetrafluoro phenyl ring with a secondary carboxamide group. The absorption and emission maxima in water are in the range of 635-639 and 655-659 nm, respectively. A vastly simplified approach to red-emitting rhodamines with two phosphate groups that are compatible with diverse functional linkers was developed. As an example, a phosphorylated dye with an azide residue was prepared and was used in a click reaction with a strained alkyne bearing an N-hydroxysuccinimid (NHS) ester group. This method bypasses the undesired activation of phosphate groups, and gives an amphiphilic amino-reactive dye, the solubility and distribution of which between aqueous and organic phases can be controlled by varying the pH. The presence of two hydroxyl groups and a phenyl ring with two carboxyl residues in the dyes with another substitution pattern is sufficient for providing the hydrophilic properties. Selective formation of a mono-N-hydroxysuccinimidyl ester from 5-carboxy isomer of this rhodamine is reported. The fluorescence quantum yields varied from 58 to 92% for free fluorophores, and amounted to 18-64% for antibody conjugates in aqueous buffers. The brightness and photostability of these fluorophores facilitated two-color stimulated emission depletion (STED) fluorescence nanoscopy of biological samples with high contrast and minimal background. Selecting a pair of fluorophores with absorption/emission bands at 579/609 and 635/655 nm enabled two-color channels with low cross-talk and negligible background at approximately 40 nm resolution.