Construction of an orthogonal ZnSalen/Salophen library as a colour palette for one- and two-photon live cell imaging†
Construction of a colour palette based on modular “core” dyes with tuneable emission and tailor-made intracellular localization is of importance to visualize and distinguish different organelles and even observe their intracellular cross-talking. However, due to lack of structural information linking photophysical properties and the specificity of subcellular localizations, the modification of photophysical properties cannot always enable tailor-made specificity. In this work, we report the construction of a ZnSalen/Salophen library (48 examples) and study the one- and two-photon optical properties, lipophilicity and subcellular distribution of the complexes. Experimental and theoretical studies demonstrate that changes of the electronic states of the diamine moieties are effective for modulation of the photophysical properties of the ZnSalen/Salophen complexes. On the other hand, the subcellular localization is highly related to the lipophilicity of the ZnSalen/ZnSalophen complexes, which is correlated to the functionalization of the N-substitutients at the 4-position. Thus, the orthogonality between the photophysical properties and the subcellular localizations of the ZnSalen/Salophen complexes, regulated by discrete moieties (diamines and salicylaldehydes), renders them suitable fluorophores for the modular design of bioprobes in live cell imaging. More importantly, to demonstrate their potential application, we applied these Zn complexes as a colour palette for multicolour imaging in live cells using one- and two-photon fluorescence microscopes.