ANNINE-6 and ANNINE-6plus are voltage-sensitive dyes that when combined with two-photon microscopy are ideal for recording of neuronal voltages in vivo, in both bulk loaded tissue and the dendrites of single neurons. Here, we describe in detail but for a broad audience the voltage sensing mechanism of fast voltage-sensitive dyes, with a focus on ANNINE dyes, and how voltage imaging can be optimized with one-photon and two-photon excitation. Under optimized imaging conditions the key strengths of ANNINE dyes are their high sensitivity (0.5%/mV), neglectable bleaching and phototoxicity, a linear response to membrane potential, and a temporal resolution which is faster than the optical imaging devices currently used in neurobiology (order of nanoseconds). ANNINE dyes in combination with two-photon microscopy allow depth-resolved voltage imaging in bulk loaded tissue to study average membrane voltage oscillations and sensory responses. Alternatively, if ANNINE-6plus is applied internally, supra and sub threshold voltage changes can be recorded from dendrites of single neurons in awake animals. Interestingly, in our experience ANNINE-6plus labeling is impressively stable in vivo, such that voltage imaging from single Purkinje neuron dendrites can be performed for 2 weeks after a single electroporation of the neuron. Finally, to maximize their potential for neuroscience studies, voltage imaging with ANNINE dyes and two-photon microscopy can be combined with electrophysiological recording, calcium imaging, and/or pharmacology, even in awake animals.
Keywords: ANNINE; VSD; electrochromism; membrane potential; solvatochromism; two-photon; voltage imaging; voltage-sensitive dye.