Activatable fluorescent probes for: In situ imaging of enzymes

Xiaofeng Wu, Rui Wang, Nahyun Kwon, Huimin Ma, Juyoung Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


As the main biomarkers of most diseases, enzymes play fundamental but extremely critical roles in biosystems. High-resolution studies of enzymes using activatable in situ fluorescence imaging may help to better elucidate their dynamics in living systems. Currently, most activatable probes can realize changeable imaging of enzymes but inevitably tend to diffuse away from the original active site of the enzyme and even translocate out of cells, seriously impairing in situ high-resolution observation of the enzymes. In situ fluorescence imaging of enzymes can be realized by labelling probes or antibodies with always-on signals that fail to enable activatable imaging of enzymes. Thus, fluorescent probes with both "activatable"and "in situ"properties will enable high-resolution studies of enzymes in living systems. In this tutorial review, we summarize the existing methods ranging from design strategies to bioimaging applications that could be used to develop activatable fluorescent probes for in situ imaging of enzymes. It is expected that this tutorial review will promote the new methods generated to design such probes for better deciphering enzymes in complex biosystems and further extend the application of these methods to other fields of enzymes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450-463
Number of pages14
JournalChemical Society Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - 21 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Huimin Ma is currently a Professor at ICCAS; director, the CAS Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Living Biosystems. He received his BSc in 1983 at Shandong University and his PhD in 1990 from ICCAS. He was granted a research fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Bremen University; 1996–1997), and a research fund for Outstanding Young Scientists from the NSF of China in 2005. He edited a book ‘‘Spectroscopic Probes and Sensing Analysis’’, and is currently the editor of Spectrochimica Acta A. His research interests focus on new spectroscopic probes and their analytical applications.

Funding Information:
This investigation was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), which is funded by the Ministry of Education (2021R1A6A1A10039823 for J. Yoon) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21820102007 for H. Ma).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry.


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