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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Oct 24;134(42):17428-31. doi: 10.1021/ja308203h. Epub 2012 Oct 10.

Fluorogenic azidofluoresceins for biological imaging.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Fluorogenic probes activated by bioorthogonal chemical reactions can enable biomolecule imaging in situations where it is not possible to wash away unbound probe. One challenge for the development of such probes is the a priori identification of structures that will undergo a dramatic fluorescence enhancement by virtue of the chemical transformation. With the aid of density functional theory calculations reported previously by Nagano and co-workers, we identified azidofluorescein derivatives that were predicted to undergo an increase in fluorescence quantum yield upon Cu-catalyzed or Cu-free cycloaddition with linear or cyclic alkynes, respectively. Four derivatives were experimentally verified in model reactions, and one, a 4-azidonaphthylfluorescein analogue, was further shown to label alkyne-functionalized proteins in vitro and glycoproteins on cells with excellent selectivity. The azidofluorescein derivative also enabled cell imaging under no-wash conditions with good signal above background. This work establishes a platform for the rational design of fluorogenic azide probes with spectral properties tailored for biological imaging.

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