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J Neurosci Methods. 2009 May 30;180(1):9-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2009.01.032. Epub 2009 Feb 7.

Laser photolysis of caged compounds at 405 nm: photochemical advantages, localisation, phototoxicity and methods for calibration.

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Laboratoire de Physiologie Cérébrale CNRS UMR 8118, Université Paris Descartes, Paris 75006, France.


Rapid, localised photolytic release of neurotransmitters from caged precursors at synaptic regions in the extracellular space is greatly hampered at irradiation wavelengths in the near-UV, close to the wavelength of maximum absorption of the caged precursor, because of inner-filtering by strong absorption of light in the cage solution between the objective and cell. For this reason two-photon excitation is commonly used for photolysis, particularly at multiple points distributed over large fields; or, with near-UV, if combined with local perfusion of the cage. These methods each have problems: the small cross-sections of common cages with two-photon excitation require high cage concentrations and light intensities near the phototoxic limit, while local perfusion gives non-uniform cage concentrations over the field of view. Single-photon photolysis at 405 nm, although less efficient than at 330-350 nm, with present cages is more efficient than two-photon photolysis. The reduced light absorption in the bulk cage solution permits efficient wide-field uncaging at non-toxic intensities with uniform cage concentration. Full photolysis of MNI-glutamate with 100 micros pulses required intensities of 2 mW microm(-2) at the preparation, shown to be non-toxic with repeated exposures. Light scattering at 405 nm was estimated as 50% at 18 microm depth in 21-day rat cerebellum. Methods are described for: (1) varying the laser spot size; (2) photolysis calibration in the microscope with the caged fluorophore NPE-HPTS over the wavelength range 347-405 nm; and (3) determining the point-spread function of excitation. Furthermore, DM-Nitrophen photolysis at 405 nm was efficient for intracellular investigations of Ca2+-dependent processes.

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