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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Jan 18;134(2):1200-11. doi: 10.1021/ja209292b. Epub 2012 Jan 6.

A unique class of near-infrared functional fluorescent dyes with carboxylic-acid-modulated fluorescence ON/OFF switching: rational design, synthesis, optical properties, theoretical calculations, and applications for fluorescence imaging in living animals.

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State Key Laboratory of Chemo/Biosensing and Chemometrics, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Hunan University, Changsha 410082, PR China.


Fluorescence imaging is one of the most powerful techniques for monitoring biomolecules in living systems. Fluorescent sensors with absorption and emission in the near-infrared (NIR) region are favorable for biological imaging applications in living animals, as NIR light leads to minimum photodamage, deep tissue penetration, and minimum background autofluorescence interference. Herein, we have introduced a new strategy to design NIR functional dyes with the carboxylic-acid-controlled fluorescence on-off switching mechanism by the spirocyclization. Based on the design strategy, we have developed a series of Changsha (CS1-6) NIR fluorophores, a unique new class of NIR functional fluorescent dyes, bearing excellent photophysical properties including large absorption extinction coefficients, high fluorescence quantum yields, high brightness, good photostability, and sufficient chemical stability. Significantly, the new CS1-6 NIR dyes are superior to the traditional rhodamine dyes with both absorption and emission in the NIR region while retaining the rhodamine-like fluorescence ON-OFF switching mechanism. In addition, we have performed quantum chemical calculations with the B3LYP exchange functional employing 6-31G* basis sets to shed light on the structure-optical properties of the new CS1-6 NIR dyes. Furthermore, using CS2 as a platform, we further constructed the novel NIR fluorescent TURN-ON sensor 7, which is capable of imaging endogenously produced HClO in the living animals, demonstrating the value of our new CS NIR functional fluorescent dyes. We expect that the design strategy may be extended for development of a wide variety of NIR functional dyes with a suitable fluorescence-controlled mechanism for many useful applications in biological studies.

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