Low-Affinity Zinc Sensor Showing Fluorescence Responses with Minimal Artifacts

Xinhao Yan, Jin Ju Kim, Hye Sun Jeong, Yu Kyung Moon, Yoon Kyung Cho, Soyeon Ahn, Sang Beom Jun, Hakwon Kim, Youngmin You

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The study of the zinc biology requires molecular probes with proper zinc affinity. We developed a low-affinity zinc probe (HBO-ACR) based on an azacrown ether (ACR) and an 2-(2-hydroxyphenyl)benzoxazole (HBO) fluorophore. This probe design imposed positive charge in the vicinity of a zinc coordination center, which enabled fluorescence turn-on responses to high levels of zinc without being affected by the pH and the presence of other transition-metal ions. Steady-state and transient photophysical investigations suggested that such a high tolerance benefits from orchestrated actions of proton-induced nonradiative and zinc-induced radiative control. The zinc bioimaging utility of HBO-ACR has been fully demonstrated with the use of human pancreas epidermoid carcinoma, PANC-1 cells, and rodent hippocampal neurons from cultures and acute brain slices. The results obtained through our studies established the validity of incorporating positively charged ionophores for the creation of low-affinity probes for the visualization of biometals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4332-4346
Number of pages15
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - 17 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the MSIP of Korea through the GFP (Grant CISS-2012M3A6A6054204 to S.B.J. and Y.Y.) and NRF (Grant 2012M2B2B1055502 to H.K. and 2014R1A1A1A05003770 to S.B.J.). The authors acknowledge Dr. Seung-Hae Kwon and So-Young Kim at Korea Basic Science Institute Chuncheon Center, for microscopic experiments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


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