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This content will become publicly available on June 1, 2023

Title: Photoswitchable Fluorescent Proteins: Mechanisms on Ultrafast Timescales
The advancement of super-resolution imaging (SRI) relies on fluorescent proteins with novel photochromic properties. Using light, the reversibly switchable fluorescent proteins (RSFPs) can be converted between bright and dark states for many photocycles and their emergence has inspired the invention of advanced SRI techniques. The general photoswitching mechanism involves the chromophore cis-trans isomerization and proton transfer for negative and positive RSFPs and hydration–dehydration for decoupled RSFPs. However, a detailed understanding of these processes on ultrafast timescales (femtosecond to millisecond) is lacking, which fundamentally hinders the further development of RSFPs. In this review, we summarize the current progress of utilizing various ultrafast electronic and vibrational spectroscopies, and time-resolved crystallography in investigating the on/off photoswitching pathways of RSFPs. We show that significant insights have been gained for some well-studied proteins, but the real-time “action” details regarding the bidirectional cis-trans isomerization, proton transfer, and intermediate states remain unclear for most systems, and many other relevant proteins have not been studied yet. We expect this review to lay the foundation and inspire more ultrafast studies on existing and future engineered RSFPs. The gained mechanistic insights will accelerate the rational development of RSFPs with enhanced two-way switching rate and efficiency, better photostability, higher brightness, and more » redder emission colors. « less
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International Journal of Molecular Sciences
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National Science Foundation
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