Fluorescent voltage indicators are an attractive alternative for studying the electrical activity of excitable cells; however, the development of indicators that are both highly sensitive and low in toxicity over long-term experiments remains a challenge. Previously, we reported a fluorene-based voltage-sensitive fluorophore that exhibits much lower phototoxicity than previous voltage indicators in cardiomyocyte monolayers, but suffers from low sensitivity to membrane potential changes. Here, we report that the addition of a single vinyl spacer in the fluorene molecular wire scaffold improves the voltage sensitivity 1.5- to 3.5-fold over fluorene-based voltage probes. Furthermore, we demonstrate the improved ability of the new vinyl-fluorene VoltageFluors (v-fVFs) to monitor action potential kinetics in both mammalian neurons and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs). Addition of the vinyl spacer between the aniline donor and fluorene monomer results in indicators that are significantly less phototoxic in cardiomyocyte monolayers. These results demonstrate how structural modification to the voltage sensing domain have a large effect on improving the overall properties of molecular wire-based voltage indicators.
02 EWM vinyl-fluorene SI ChemRxiv