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. 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 compatible super-resolution microscopy without high-illumination or toxic imaging buffers is revealed by imaging interferon inducible transmembrane proteins (IFITMs) at sub-100 nm resolutions.
- fluorescence microscopy
- fluorescence quenching