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Nat Methods. 2006 Jan;3(1):35-40.

The nitrodibenzofuran chromophore: a new caging group for ultra-efficient photolysis in living cells.

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Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Drexel University College of Medicine, 245 North 15th St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102, USA.


Photochemical uncaging of bio-active molecules was introduced in 1977, but since then, there has been no substantial improvement in the properties of generic caging chromophores. We have developed a new chromophore, nitrodibenzofuran (NDBF) for ultra-efficient uncaging of second messengers inside cells. Photolysis of a NDBF derivative of EGTA (caged calcium) is about 16-160 times more efficient than photolysis of the most widely used caged compounds (the quantum yield of photolysis is 0.7 and the extinction coefficient is 18,400 M(-1) cm(-1)). Ultraviolet (UV)-laser photolysis of NDBF-EGTA:Ca(2+) rapidly released Ca(2+) (rate of 20,000 s(-1)) and initiated contraction of skinned guinea pig cardiac muscle. NDBF-EGTA has a two-photon cross-section of approximately 0.6 GM and two-photon photolysis induced localized Ca(2+)-induced Ca(2+) release from the sarcoplasmic recticulum of intact cardiac myocytes. Thus, the NDBF chromophore has great promise as a generic and photochemically efficient protecting group for both one- and two-photon uncaging in living cells.

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