A fluorogenic probe based on chelation-hydrolysis-enhancement mechanism for visualizing Zn2+ in Parkinson's disease models

Gaobin Zhang, Yanfei Zhao, Bo Peng, Zheng Li, Chenchen Xu, Yi Liu, Chengwu Zhang, Nicolas H. Voelcker, Lin Li, Wei Huang

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Developing efficient methods for the real-time detection of Zn2+ levels in biological systems is highly relevant to improving our understanding of the role of Zn2+ in the progression of Parkinson's disease (PD). In this work, a novel Schiff base based Zn2+ fluorescent probe (ZP) was designed, synthesized and systematically investigated. A significant turn-on effect on ZP upon the addition of Zn2+ was observed, accompanied by a blue-shift of the fluorescence spectra. ZP is sensitive to Zn2+ and has excellent selectivity against various biologically relevant cations, anions and amino acids. The sensing mechanism of ZP was studied by 1H NMR, MS, single crystal X-ray diffraction and theoretical calculations. The results showed that the response of ZP to Zn2+ was based on the chelation-hydrolysis-enhancement process. Upon bonding, Zn2+ hydrolyzes the Schiff base to an aldehyde precursor, the resulting aldehyde further coordinates to Zn2+ to form a more stable heterobimetallic complex leading to the emission enhancement and blue-shift. ZP was applied to imaging exogenous/endogenous Zn2+ in live HeLa cells. Furthermore, we successfully measured the Zn2+ levels using in vitro PD models, which provided a visualization method to better understand the relationship between Zn2+ levels and PD development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2252-2260
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry B
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2019

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