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, 69 (8), 920-9

A New Configuration of the Zeiss LSM 510 for Simultaneous Optical Separation of Green and Red Fluorescent Protein Pairs


A New Configuration of the Zeiss LSM 510 for Simultaneous Optical Separation of Green and Red Fluorescent Protein Pairs

Kurt I Anderson et al. Cytometry A.


The power and simplicity of genetically encoded fluorophores (fluorescent proteins, FPs) have drawn many molecular biologists to light microscopy. First generation FPs suffered from overlapping excitation and emission spectra, which limited their use together in pairs (Patterson et al., J Cell Sci 2001;114 (Part 5):837-838). Image acquisition and processing techniques, collectively known as linear unmixing, have been developed to separate overlapping fluorescence signals encountered in the imaging of FP pairs and also in FRET. These specialized techniques are not without their potential drawbacks, including limitations on sensitivity and time-resolution for live cell imaging, and the risk of artifact in the hands of nonspecialists. With the advent of a new generation of red-shifted FPs (Shaner et al., Nat Biotechnol 2004;22:1567-1572; Verkhusha and Lukyanov, Nat Biotechnol 2004;22:289-296) careful selection of excitation sources and emission filters obviate the need for linear unmixing when simple two channel imaging of FPs is required. Here we introduce a new configuration of the Zeiss LSM 510 laser scanning confocal microscope, optimized for live cell imaging of green fluorescent protein (GFP) together with spectral variants such as mRFP1 and mCherry using standard photo-multipliers. A 2 mW, 594 nm HeNe laser was chosen as the excitation source for the red FP. This wavelength efficiently excites the aforementioned red variants without limiting the detection range of GFP emission during simultaneous two-channel imaging. Compared to excitation of GFP and mCherry at 488 and 543 nm, excitation at 488 and 594 nm approximately doubles the sensitivity of GFP detection and eliminates bleed-through of GFP into the mCherry channel. However, sensitivity of mCherry detection is decreased by 30%, suggesting the need for red FPs having longer emission peaks. Practical advantages to the simultaneous optical separation of FPs with nonoverlapping emission spectra include simplicity, robustness, reduced risk of artifact, and increased sensitivity during live cell imaging.

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