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Org Biomol Chem. 2011 Dec 21;9(24):8356-70. doi: 10.1039/c1ob05637a. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

Synthesis of a library of oligothiophenes and their utilization as fluorescent ligands for spectral assignment of protein aggregates.

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Department of Chemistry, Linköping University, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden.


Molecular probes for selective identification of protein aggregates are important to advance our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis underlying protein aggregation diseases. Here we report the chemical design of a library of anionic luminescent conjugated oligothiophenes (LCOs), which can be utilized as ligands for detection of protein aggregates. Certain molecular requirements were shown to be necessary for detecting (i) early non-thioflavinophilic protein assemblies of Aβ1-42 and insulin preceding the formation of amyloid fibrils and (ii) for obtaining distinct spectral signatures of the two main pathological hallmarks observed in human Alzheimer's diease brain tissue (Aβ plaques and neurofibrillary tangles). Our findings suggest that a superior anionic LCO-based ligand should have a backbone consisting of five to seven thiophene units and carboxyl groups extending the conjugated thiophene backbone. Such LCOs will be highly useful for studying the underlying molecular events of protein aggregation diseases and could also be utilized for the development of novel diagnostic tools for these diseases.

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