A far-red emitting probe for unambiguous detection of mobile zinc in acidic vesicles and deep tissue
Imaging mobile zinc in acidic environments remains challenging because most small-molecule optical probes display pH-dependent fluorescence. Here we report a reaction-based sensor that detects mobile zinc unambiguously at low pH. The sensor responds reversibly and with a large dynamic range to exogenously applied Zn2+ in lysosomes of HeLa cells, endogenous Zn2+ in insulin granules of MIN6 cells, and zinc-rich mossy fiber boutons in hippocampal tissue from mice. This long-wavelength probe is compatible with the green-fluorescent protein, enabling multicolor imaging, and facilitates visualization of mossy fiber boutons at depths of >100 μm, as demonstrated by studies in live tissue employing two-photon microscopy.