A golgi apparatus-targeting, naphthalimide-based fluorescent molecular probe for the selective sensing of formaldehyde

Maxine Mambo Fortibui, Wanyoung Lim, Sohyun Lee, Sungsu Park, Jinheung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Formaldehyde (FA) is a colorless, flammable, foul-smelling chemical used in building materials and in the production of numerous household chemical goods. Herein, a fluorescent chemosensor for FA is designed and prepared using a selective organ-targeting probe containing naphthalimide as a fluorophore and hydrazine as a FA-binding site. The amine group of the hydrazine reacts with FA to form a double bond and this condensation reaction is accompanied by a shift in the absorption band of the probe from 438 nm to 443 nm upon the addition of FA. Further, the addition of FA is shown to enhance the emission band at 532 nm relative to the very weak fluorescent emission of the probe itself. Moreover, a high specificity is demonstrated towards FA over other competing analytes such as the calcium ion (Ca2+), magnesium ion (Mg2+), acetaldehyde, benzaldehyde, salicylaldehyde, glucose, glutathione, sodium sulfide (Na2S), sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and the tert-butylhydroperoxide radical. A typical two-photon dye incorporated into the probe provides intense fluorescence upon excitation at 800 nm, thus demonstrating potential application as a two-photon fluorescent probe for FA sensing. Furthermore, the probe is shown to exhibit a fast response time for the sensing of FA at room temperature and to facilitate intense fluorescence imaging of breast cancer cells upon exposure to FA, thus demonstrating its potential application for the monitoring of FA in living cells. Moreover, the presence of the phenylsulfonamide group allows the probe to visualize dynamic changes in the targeted Golgi apparatus. Hence, the as-designed probe is expected to open up new possibilities for unique interactions with organ-specific biological molecules with potential application in early cancer cell diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4980
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: This work was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government (NRF-2019R1A2C1007278, NRF-2017R1A5A1015365), and and H-guard (2018M3A6B2057299 to S. Park) through the NRF funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Condensation reaction
  • Fluorescent probe
  • Formaldehyde detection
  • Phenylsulfonamide
  • Two-photon excitation


Dive into the research topics of 'A golgi apparatus-targeting, naphthalimide-based fluorescent molecular probe for the selective sensing of formaldehyde'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this