Rhodamine derivatives bearing thiourea groups serve as fluorescent probes for selective detection of ATP in mitochondria and lysosomes

K. M.K. Swamy, Sewon Eom, Yifan Liu, Gyoungmi Kim, Dayoung Lee, Juyoung Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


ATP functions as an energy source in all living things and it also plays key roles in a variety of important biological processes. Moreover, low levels of ATP are indicators of cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's disease and ischemia. As a result, the development of fluorescent probes that detect ATP selectively is a significant goal. In the current study, we synthesized two new rhodamine derivatives, 1 and 2, bearing thiourea groups, and assessed their abilities to serve as selective fluorescent and colorimetric probes for ATP. Thiourea groups were incorporated in 1 and 2 to act as hydrogen bonding donors to recognize tris-phosphate groups and induce photophysical property changing, spirocyclic ring opening. Indeed, we observed that solutions of these probes undergo a large fluorescent enhancement at 590 nm and a distinct colorimetric change from colorless to dark pink upon addition of ATP. Moreover, these probes can be used to image ATP in HeLa cells. Because it was found to locate mainly in mitochondria, 2 can be employed to image ATP in mitochondria. On the other hand, probe 1, bearing a lysosome directing morpholine group displays moderately selective localization in lysosomes and can be utilized to image ATP in lysosomes. Furthermore, both probes were shown to have extremely low cytotoxicities by using MTT assays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-358
Number of pages9
JournalSensors and Actuators, B: Chemical
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported financially by a grant from the National Creative Research Initiative Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) , which is funded by the Korean government (MSIP) (No. 2012R1A3A2048814 ). Mass spectrometric data were obtained from the Korea Basic Science Institute (Daegu), by using a Jeol JMS 700 high-resolution mass spectrometer.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • ATP probe
  • Fluorescent chemosensor
  • Mitochondria targeting
  • Rhodamine
  • Thiourea


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