An extra-large Stokes shift near-infrared fluorescent probe for specific detection and imaging of cysteine

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Department of Chemistry


Cysteine (Cys) plays a crucial role in numerous physiological and pathological processes. Therefore, it is imperative to design a highly selective and sensitive near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent probe to monitor Cys. In this study, we have developed a novel NIR fluorescent probe XA based on Xanthene hybrid tetrahydro-acridine salt dye for specifically tracking of Cys, where a chlorine-substituted tetrahydro-acridine acts as a high Cys-reactive site and water-soluble group. Probe XA exhibits a remarkable "turn-on" NIR emission (830 nm) with an extra-large Stokes shift (305 nm) for monitoring Cys. It also has a high selectivity, rapid response time (6 min) and high sensitivity (LOD as 0.5 μM). We fully characterized and discussed the sensing mechanism of XA toward Cys using HPLC and MS spectrums, as well as quantum theory calculations. Furthermore, the excellent properties of NIR fluorescent detection allow this novel probe to successfully monitor fluctuations of exogenous and endogenous Cys concentration levels in living cells and in vivo.

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