We report a Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based imaging ensemble for the visualization of membrane potential in living cells. A water-soluble poly(fluorene-cophenylene) conjugated polyelectrolyte (FsPFc10) serves as a FRET donor to a voltage-sensitive dye acceptor (FluoVolt™). We observe FRET between FsPFc10 and FluoVolt™, where the enhancement in FRET-sensitized emission from FluoVolt™ is measured at various donor/acceptor ratios. At a donor/acceptor ratio of 1, the excitation of FluoVolt™ in a FRET configuration results in a three-fold enhancement in its fluorescence emission (compared to when it is excited directly). FsPFc10 efficiently labels the plasma membrane of HEK 293T/17 cells and remains resident with minimal cellular internalization for ~ 1.5 h. The successful plasma membrane-associated colabeling of the cells with the FsPFc10-FluoVolt™ donor-acceptor pair is confirmed by dual-channel confocal imaging. Importantly, cells labeled with FsPFc10 show excellent cellular viability with no adverse effect on cell membrane depolarization. During depolarization of membrane potential, HEK 293T/17 cells labeled with the donor-acceptor FRET pair exhibit a greater fluorescence response in FluoVolt™ emission relative to when FluoVolt™ is used as the sole imaging probe. These results demonstrate the conjugated polyelectrolyte to be a new class of membrane labeling fluorophore for use in voltage sensing schemes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry