Pyrrole Hemithioindigo Antimitotics with Near-Quantitative Bidirectional Photoswitching Photocontrol Cellular Microtubule Dynamics with Single-Cell Precision
Photoswitchably bioactive reagents, known as “photopharmaceuticals”, promise powerful applications in high-precision biological research. Yet most photoswitch scaffolds cannot be quantitatively bidirectionally photoisomerised, so they suffer from residual background activity that can confound experiments. We rationally designed photopharmaceuticals using the emerging near-quantitative photoswitch pyrrole hemithioindigo (PHTubs), to isomer-specifically inhibit the cytoskeletal protein tubulin. These PHTub reagents allow simultaneous visible-light imaging and photoswitching in live cells, where they could be used for cell-precise photomodulation of microtubule dynamics, and photocontrol over cell cycle progression and cell death. This is, as far as we know, the first use of a hemithioindigo photopharmaceutical for high-spatiotemporal-resolution biological control in live cells. This work opens up new horizons for high-precision microtubule research using PHTubs; and shows the cellular applicability of the near-quantitative photoswitch pyrrole hemithioindigo as a valuable scaffold for photocontrol of a range of other biological targets.