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Nat Chem Biol. 2008 Mar;4(3):168-75. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.69.

Synthetic fluorescent sensors for studying the cell biology of metals.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, 532A Latimer Hall, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.

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  • Nat Chem Biol. 2008 Aug;4(8):507.


Metals are essential for sustaining all forms of life, but alterations in their cellular homeostasis are connected to severe human disorders, including cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Fluorescent small molecules that respond to metal ions in the cell with appropriate selectivity and sensitivity offer the ability to probe physiological and pathological consequences of the cell biology of metals with spatial and temporal fidelity. Molecular imaging of normal and abnormal cellular metal ion pools using these new chemical tools provides a host of emerging opportunities for visualizing, in real time, aspects of metal accumulation, trafficking, and function or toxicity in living systems. This review presents a brief survey of available synthetic small-molecule sensor types for fluorescence detection of cellular metals.

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