In fluorescence microscopy, the photophysical properties of the fluorescent markers play a fundamental role. The beauty of phototransformable fluorescent proteins (PTFPs) is that some of these properties can be precisely controlled by light. A wide range of PTFPs have been developed in recent years, including photoactivatable, photoconvertible and photoswitchable fluorescent proteins. These smart labels triggered a plethora of advanced fluorescence methods to scrutinize biological cells or organisms dynamically, quantitatively and with unprecedented resolution. Despite continuous improvements, PTFPs still suffer from limitations, and mechanistic questions remain as to how these proteins precisely work.
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