Multicolor microscopy tools necessary to localize and visualize the complexity of subcellular systems are limited by current fluorophore technology. While commercial fluorophores cover spectral space from the ultraviolet to the near infrared region and are optimized for conventional bandpass based fluorescence microscopy, they are not ideal for highly multiplexed fluorescence microscopy as they tend to have short Stokes shifts, restricting the number of fluorophores that can be detected in a single sample to four to five. Herein, we synthesized a library of 95 novel boron-dipyrromethene (BODIPY)-based fluorophores and screened their photophysical, optical and spectral properties for their utility in multicolor microscopy. A subset of our BODIPY-based fluorophores yielded varied length Stokes shifts probes, which were used to create a five-color image using a single excitation with confocal laser scanning microscopy for the first time. Combining these novel fluorophores with conventional fluorophores could facilitate imaging in up to nine to ten colors using linear unmixing based microscopy approaches.
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