It is difficult to overstate the physiological importance of potassium for life as its indispensable roles in a variety of biological processes are widely known. As a result, efficient methods for determining physiological levels of potassium are of paramount importance. Despite this, relatively few K+ fluorescence sensors have been reported, with only one being commercially available. A new two-photon excited fluorescent K+ sensor is reported. The sensor is comprised of three moieties, a highly selective K+ chelator as the K+ recognition unit, a boron-dipyrromethene (BODIPY) derivative modified with phenylethynyl groups as the fluorophore, and two polyethylene glycol chains to afford water solubility. The sensor displays very high selectivity (<52-fold) in detecting K+ over other physiological metal cations. Upon binding K+, the sensor switches from non-fluorescent to highly fluorescent, emitting red to near-IR (NIR) fluorescence. The sensor exhibited a good two-photon absorption cross section, 500 GM at 940 nm. Moreover, it is not sensitive to pH in the physiological pH range. Time-dependent cell imaging studies via both one- and two-photon fluorescence microscopy demonstrate that the sensor is suitable for dynamic K+ sensing in living cells.
Binglin Sui, Xiling Yue, Bosung Kim, and Kevin D. Belfield, "Two-photon fluorescent sensor for K+ imaging in live cells (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9723, Reporters, Markers, Dyes, Nanoparticles, and Molecular Probes for Biomedical Applications VIII, 972308 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 15, 2016; Published: 28 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2211202.4848770190001.
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