Frahm L, Keller-Findeisen J, Alt P, Schnorrenberg S, Del Alamo Ruiz M, Aspelmeier T, Munk A, Jakobs S, Hell SW
Opt Express. 2019 Jul 22;27(15):21956-21987.
BACKGROUND: The ultimate objective of a microscope of the highest resolution is to map the molecules of interest in the sample. Traditionally, linear imaging systems are characterized by their spatial frequency transfer function, which is given, in real space, by the point spread function (PSF). By extending the concept of the PSF towards the molecular contribution function (MCF), that quantifies the average contribution of a single fluorophore to the image, a straightforward concept for counting fluorophores is obtained. Using reversible saturable optical fluorescence transitions (RESOLFT), fluorophores are effectively activated only in a small, subdiffraction-sized volume before they are read out. During readout the signal exhibits an increased variance due to the stochastic nature of prior activation, which scales quadratically with the brightness of the active fluorophores while the mean of the signal scales only linearly with it. Using a two-state Markov model for the activation, showing comparable behavior to the switching kinetics of the switchable fluorescent protein rsEGFP2, we can approximate quantitatively the MCF of RESOLFT nanoscopy allowing to count the number of fluorophores within a subdiffraction-sized region of the sample. The method is validated on measurements of tubulin structures in Drosophila melagonaster larvae. Modeling and estimation of the MCF is a promising approach to quantitative microscopy.