Design principles, sensing mechanisms, and applications of highly specific fluorescent probes for HOCl/OCl-

Di Wu, Liyan Chen, Qingling Xu, Xiaoqiang Chen, Juyoung Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

275 Scopus citations


ConspectusHypochlorous acid/hypochlorite (HOCl/OCl-), one of the most important reactive oxygen species (ROS), plays vital roles in various physiological and pathological processes. At normal concentrations, OCl- acts as part of an immune defense system by destroying invasive bacteria and pathogens. However, nonproperly located or excessive amounts of OCl- are related to many diseases, including cancers. Thus, detection of OCl- has great importance. Owing to their high sensitivities, selectivities, fast response times, technical simplicities, and high temporal and spatial resolution, fluorescent probes are powerful tools for in vitro and in vivo sensing of target substances. This Account focuses on the development of new chemosensors for detection of OCl-, which operate by undergoing a chemical reaction with this ROS in conjunction with a change in emission properties. As part of the presentation, we first introduce several important factors that need to be considered in the design of fluorescent chemosensors for OCl-, including fluorophores, reaction groups, cosolvents, and buffers. Discussion here revolves around the need to select fluorophores that resist oxidation by OCl-. As well, attention is given to the sensitivities and selectivities of groups in the sensors that react with OCl- to trigger a fluorescence response. Moreover, well-known reaction groups, which react with highly reactive ROS (hROS), have been redesigned to be specific for OCl-. In addition, it is pointed out that several cosolvents and buffers such as DMSO and HEPES are not suitable for use in systems for the detection of OCl- because they are readily oxidized by this ROS. We further discuss recent investigations carried out by us and others aimed at the development of fluorescent probes for in vitro and in vivo detection of OCl-. These efforts led to the new "dual lock" strategy for designing OCl- chemosensors as well as several new specific reaction groups such as imidazoline-2-thiones and imidazoline-2-boranes. Probes created using this strategy and the new reacting groups have been successfully applied to imaging exogenous and endogenous OCl- in live cells and/or tissues. The design concepts and strategies emanating from our studies of fluorescent OCl- probes have provided insight into the general field of fluorescent probes. Despite the progress made thus far, challenges still remain in developing and applying fluorescent OCl- probes. For example, more highly specific and sensitive fluorescent OCl- probes are still in great demand for studies of the biological roles played by OCl-. Thus, interdisciplinary collaborations of chemists, biologists, and medical practitioners are needed to drive future developments of OCl- probes for disease diagnosis and drug screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2158-2168
Number of pages11
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - 20 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
J.Y. thanks the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), which is funded by the Korean government (MSIP) (no. 2012R1A3A2048814). X.C. acknowledges the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 21722605). Q.X. thanks the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 21708041), University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Excellent Talents Project-Beijing Municipal Party Committee Organization Department (2017000097607G077). D.W. thanks the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 21801201)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Chemical Society.


Dive into the research topics of 'Design principles, sensing mechanisms, and applications of highly specific fluorescent probes for HOCl/OCl-'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this