Imaging viscosity and its spatiotemporal patterns can provide valuable insight into the underlying physical conditions of biochemical reactions and biological processes in cells and tissues. One way to measure viscosity and diffusion is the use of fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP). We combine FRAP with FLIM and time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy imaging (tr-FAIM), by acquiring time- and polarization-resolved fluorescence images in every frame of a FRAP series. This allows us to simultaneously monitor translational and rotational diffusion. This approach can be applied to measuring diffusion in homogeneous and heterogeneous environments, and in principle also allows the study of homo-FRET. Another way to measure viscosity and diffusion is through specific flexible dyes, e.g. fluorescent molecular rotors, whose fluorescence quantum yield and fluorescence lifetime depend on the viscosity of the environment, in combination with fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM). We show that a bodipybased fluorescent molecular rotor targeting mitochondria reports on their viscosity, which changes under physiological stimuli. Both methods can optically measure viscosity and diffusion on the micrometer scale.
We report the simultaneous combination of three powerful techniques in uorescence microscopy: Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging (FLIM), Fluorescence Anisotropy Imaging (FAIM) and Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching (FRAP), also called F3 microscopy. An exhaustive calibration of the setup was carried out with several rhodamine 6G (R6G) solutions in water-glycerol and from the combination of the FAIM and FRAP data, the hydrodynamic radius of the dye was directly calculated. The F3 data was analyzed with a home-built MATLAB script, and the setup is currently explored further with Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). Some molecular dynamic (MD) simulations are currently being run in order to help with the interpretation of the experimental anisotropy data.