Feb 2020, Volume 14 Issue 1

Cover illustration

  • (Lloyd C. Murfin, Carlos M. López-Alled, Adam C. Sedgwick, Jannis Wenk, Tony D. James, Simon E. Lewis, pp. 89‒95)
    Our submission highlights the lifecycle of our azulene-derived chemodosimeter, used for the sensing of nitrite in pork. Sodium nitrite, NaNO2, is a commonly used preservative for red meats, and has gained media attention through its associated carcinogenicity. On our cover image, the pigs are being preserved with their NaNO2 space
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    Adam C. Sedgwick, Tony D. James
    Grant Perry, Fernando Cortezon-Tamarit, Sofia I. Pascu

    Prostate cancer has a high incidence in men and remains the second cause of mortality due to cancer worldwide. As the development of the disease is greatly correlated to age, the identification of novel detection methods reliable, efficient, and cost effective is a matter of significant importance in the ageing population of western societies. The detection of the prostate specific antigen (PSA) in blood samples has been the preferred method for the detection and monitoring of prostate cancer over the past decades. Despite the indications against its use in massive population screening, PSA still remains the best studied biomarker for prostate cancer and the detection of its different forms and incorporation in multiplexed designs with other biomarkers still remains a highly valuable indicator in the theranostics of prostate cancer. The latest developments in the use of nanomaterials towards the construction of PSA biosensors are reviewed hereby. The incorporation of gold nanoparticles, silica nanoparticles and graphene nanostructures to biosensing devices has represented a big leap forward in terms of sensitivity, stability and miniaturization. Both electrochemical and optical detection methods for the detection of PSA will be reviewed herein.

    Harrison D. Root, Gregory Thiabaud, Jonathan L. Sessler

    We report here a water-soluble metal cation sensor system based on the as-prepared or reduced form of an expanded porphyrin, texaphyrin. Upon metal complexation, a change in the redox state of the ligand occurs that is accompanied by a color change from red to green. Although long employed for synthesis in organic media, we have now found that this complexation-driven redox behavior may be used to achieve the naked eye detectable colorimetric sensing of several number of less-common metal ions in aqueous media. Exposure to In(III), Hg(II), Cd(II), Mn(II), Bi(III), Co(II), and Pb(II) cations leads to a colorimetric response within 10 min. This process is selective for Hg(II) under conditions of competitive analysis. Furthermore, among the subset of response-producing cations, In(III) proved unique in giving rise to a ratiometric change in the ligand-based fluorescence features, including an overall increase in intensity. The cation selectivity observed in aqueous media stands in contrast to what is seen in organic solvents, where a wide range of texaphyrin metal complexes may be prepared. The formation of metal cation complexes under the present aqueous conditions was confirmed by reversed phase high-performance liquid chromatography, ultra-violet-visible absorption and fluorescence spectroscopies, and high-resolution mass spectrometry.

    Daniel T. Payne, Mandeep K. Chahal, Václav Březina, Whitney A. Webre, Katsuhiko Ariga, Francis D’Souza, Jan Labuta, Jonathan P. Hill

    Chiral 1,1’-binaphthyl-linked diporphyrin ‘tweezers’ (R)-1/(S)-1 and the corresponding zinc(II) complexes (R)-2/(S)-2 were prepared as chiral host molecules, and their utility for chiral analyses (especially enantiomeric excess (ee) determinations) were evaluated. Tris(1-n-dodecyl)porphyrins were used for the first time as the interacting units. Host capabilities of the diporphyrin tweezers were investigated by titrations with (R,R)- and (S,S)-cyclohexane-1,2-diamine (CHDA). The host molecules could be used as multichannel probes of ee by using UV-vis, circular dichroism (CD), fluorescence emission and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR) methods. Chiral configurations could also be differentiated using CD or 1H-NMR spectroscopy. All three optical techniques give good resolution of ee with reasonable sensitivity considering the low concentrations used (ca. 10−6 mol·L−1). The ee determination of CHDA enantiomers using NMR spectroscopy is also possible because of the reasonably well separated resonances in the case of (R,R)- and (S,S)-CHDA. Non-metallated (R)-1/(S)-1 hosts could not be used to detect chiral information in a strongly acidic chiral guest. This work demonstrates the utility of 1,1’-binapthyl-linked chiral hosts for chiral analysis of ditopically interacting enantiomers.

    Bhaskar Gurram, Miao Li, Jiangli Fan, Jingyun Wang, Xiaojun Peng

    Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) has been used as an excellent traceable biomarker, and exists maximally in Golgi apparatus (Cancer cells). Celecoxib (CCB) is a selective inhibitor for COX-2, and has been used as one of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Herein we report the conjugation of nile blue (NB) with CCB via a six-carbon linkage to form a fluorescence probe NB-C6-CCB for the detection of COX-2. NB-C6-CCB displays strong fluorescence with the emission peak centered at near-infrared wavelength (700 nm) in tumor cells or tumor tissues with high expression of COX-2. Importantly, NB-C6-CCB can discriminate cancer cells (MCF-7) fluorescence intensity from normal ones (COS-7) in the co-culture medium under confocal microscope. Subcellular localization of the NB-C6-CCB preferentially points to the Golgi apparatus and increases the fluorescent intensity. The competitive analysis (with CCB) and Native-PAGE analysis confirmed that NB-C6-CCB shows selective binding affinity towards COX-2 enzyme. Competitive analysis with CCB (flow cytometry assay) revealed the fluorescence intensity fluctuation due to pretreatment of CCB with different concentrations, indicating that the NB-C6-CCB is a precise or sensitive probe for the COX-2. Tumor tissue (depth: 500 µm), organs and mice imaging tests show excellent near-infrared visualization, specific localization and identification of tumors.

    Takeshi Hashimoto, Mio Kumai, Mariko Maeda, Koji Miyoshi, Yuji Tsuchido, Shoji Fujiwara, Takashi Hayashita

    Based on the design of the fluorescent site of a fluorescent probe, we have created a unique system that changes its twisting response to sugar. Two probes were synthesized, in which phenylboronic acid and two kinds of aromatic fluorescent site (pyrene or anthracene) were conjugated by an amide bond. In the fluorescence measurement of pyrene-type probe 1, dimer fluorescence was observed at high pH. In induced circular dichroism (ICD) experiments, a response was observed only in the presence of glucose and γ-cyclodextrin, and no response was seen with fructose. On the other hand, in the fluorescence measurement of anthracene-type probe 2, dimer fluorescence was observed in the presence of both glucose and galactose, and the fluorescence was different from the case of fructose. When the ICD spectra of these inclusion complexes were measured, an inversion of the Cotton effect, which indicates a change in the twisted structure, was observed in galactose and glucose. These differences in response to monosaccharides may originate in the interaction between the fluorescent site and the cyclodextrin cavity.

    Miguel Martínez-Calvo, Sandra A. Bright, Emma B. Veale, Adam F. Henwood, D. Clive Williams, Thorfinnur Gunnlaugsson

    Four new fluorescent sensors (1-4) based on the 4-amino-1,8-naphthalimide fluorophores (Naps) have been synthesized based on the classical fluorophore-spacer-receptor model. These four compounds all gave rise to emission bands centred at ca. 535 nm, which were found to be highly pH dependent, the emission being ‘switched on’ in acidic media, while being quenched due to PET from the amino moieties to the excited state of the Nap at more alkaline pH. The luminescent pH dependence for these probes was found to be highly dependent on the substitution on the imide site, as well as the polyamine chain attached to the position 4-amino moiety. In the case of sensor 2 the presence of the 4-amino-aniline dominated the pH dependent quenching. Nevertheless, at higher pH, PET quenching was also found to occur from the polyamine site. Hence, 2 is better described as a receptor1-spacer1-fluorophore-spacer2-receptor2 system, where the dominant PET process is due to (normally less favourable) ‘directional’ PET quenching from the 4-amino-aniline unit to the Nap site. Similar trends and pH fluorescence dependences were also seen for 3 and 4. These compounds were also tested for their imaging potential and toxicity against HeLa cells (using DRAQ5 as nuclear stain which does now show pH dependent changes in acidic and neutral pH) and the results demonstrated that these compounds have reduced cellular viability at moderately high concentrations (with IC50 values between ca. 8–30 µmol∙L1), but were found to be suitable for intracellular pH determination at 1 µmol∙L1concentrations, where no real toxicity was observed. This allowed us to employ these as lysosomal probes at sub-toxic concentrations, where the Nap based emission was found to be pH depended, mirroring that seen in aqueous solution for 1-4, with the main fluorescence changes occurring within acidic to neutral pH.

    Viviana Maffeis, Lisa Moni, Daniele Di Stefano, Silvia Giordani, Renata Riva

    The search for new fluorescent molecules for possible applications as functional p-electron systems and their conjugation with different nanomaterials is nowadays of paramount importance to broaden the availability of materials with different properties. Herein we present a diversity-oriented approach to heterocyclic luminophores based on a multicomponent Ugi reaction followed by a Pd-mediated cascade sequence. The new molecules are coupled to carbon nano-onions, and hybrid systems represent the first example of blue emitters conjugated with these carbon nanoparticles.

    Lloyd C. Murfin, Carlos M. López-Alled, Adam C. Sedgwick, Jannis Wenk, Tony D. James, Simon E. Lewis

    We describe the synthesis and evaluation of an azulene-based chemodosimeter for nitrite. The probe was found to undergo two distinct color changes upon introduction of aqueous nitrite ion. A near-instant formation of a grey color provides a qualitative indication of the presence of nitrite, followed by the formation of a deep-yellow/orange color, the endpoint from which quantitative data can be derived. The azulene probe exhibits 1:1 stoichiometry of reaction with nitrite in water, and is selective for nitrite over other anions. The azulene probe was applied to determine nitrite content in cured meat, and compared with the British Standard testing procedure (Griess test). The value obtained from the azulene-based probe agreed closely with the standard test. Our procedure only requires the preparation of one standard solution, instead of the three required for the standard Griess test.

    Dan Wu, Gonzalo Durán-Sampedro, Donal F. O’Shea

    Bis-alkylsulfonic acid and polyethylene glycol (PEG)-substituted BF2 azadipyrromethenes have been synthesized by an adaptable and versatile route. Only four synthetic stages were required to produce the penultimate fluorophore compounds, containing either two alcohol or two terminal alkyne substituents. The final synthetic step introduced either sulfonic acid or polyethylene glycol groups to impart aqueous solubility. Sulfonic acid groups were introduced by reaction of the bis-alcohol-substituted fluorophore with sulfur trioxide, and a double Cu(I)-catalyzed cycloaddition reaction between the bis-alkyne fluorophore and methoxypolyethylene glycol azide yielded a neutral bis-pegylated derivative. Both fluorophores exhibited excellent near-infrared (NIR) photophysical properties in methanol and aqueous solutions. Live cell microscopy imaging revealed efficient uptake and intracellular labelling of cells for both fluorophores. Their simple synthesis, with potential for last-step structural modifications, makes the present NIR-active azadipyrromethene derivatives potentially useful as NIR fluorescence imaging probes for live cells.

    Weixing Deng, Pengfei Sun, Quli Fan, Lei Zhang, Tsuyoshi Minami

    The synthesis of N-cyclohexyl carbamate-attached fluorene-alt-phenylene copolymer (PFPNCC) and the use of PFPNCC as a “ligand-free” fluorescent chemosensor for Cu(II) are described. Addition of Cu(II) can efficiently quench the fluorescence of PFPNCC in nucleophilic solvents such as DMF and DMSO, but not in low nucleophilic solvents such as 1,4-dioxane and THF. Ultraviolet-visible spectra of the mixture of the conjugated polymer and Cu(II) indicate the presence of a reduced Cu(I) ion in the solution. Furthermore, fluorescence recovery of PFPNCC observed at low temperature suggests that the quenching and reducing mechanism is most probably due to a photo-induced electron transfer from excited PFPNCC to Cu(II). Our findings provide a novel strategy for highly selective conjugated polymer-based chemosensors for various target analytes, albeit “ligand-free”.

    Suying Xu, Adam C. Sedgwick, Souad A. Elfeky, Wenbo Chen, Ashley S. Jones, George T. Williams, A. Toby A. Jenkins, Steven D. Bull, John S. Fossey, Tony D. James

    A boronic acid-based anthracene fluorescent probe was functionalised with an acrylamide unit to incorporate into a hydrogel system for monosaccharide detection. In solution, the fluorescent probe displayed a strong fluorescence turn-on response upon exposure to fructose, and an expected trend in apparent binding constants, as judged by a fluorescence response where D-fructose>D-galactose>D-mannose>D-glucose. The hydrogel incorporating the boronic acid monomer demonstrated the ability to detect monosaccharides by fluorescence with the same overall trend as the monomer in solution with the addition of D-fructose resulting in a 10-fold enhancement (≤0.25 mol/L).

    Maria L. Odyniec, Jordan E. Gardiner, Adam C. Sedgwick, Xiao-Peng He, Steven D. Bull, Tony D. James

    A simple dual analyte fluorescein-based probe (PF3-Glc) was synthesised containing β-glucosidase (β-glc) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) trigger units. The presence of β-glc, resulted in fragmentation of the parent molecule releasing glucose and the slightly fluorescent mono-boronate fluorescein (PF3). Subsequently, in the presence of glucose oxidase (GOx), the released glucose was catalytically converted to D-glucono-δ-lactone, which produced H2O2 as a by-product. The GOx-produced H2O2, resulted in classic H2O2-mediated boronate oxidation and the release of the highly emissive fluorophore, fluorescein. This unique cascade reaction lead to an 80-fold increase in fluorescence intensity.