Functionalized AIE nanoparticles with efficient deep-red emission, mitochondrial specificity, cancer cell selectivity and multiphoton susceptibility.
ABSTRACT: Multiphoton microscopy is an exciting tool for biomedical research because it can be used to image single cells in vivo due to its greater penetration depth, lower phototoxicity and higher resolution when compared to confocal laser scanning microscopy. This helps researchers understand how certain cells change over time and evaluate the efficacy of different therapies. Herein, we report a new AIE luminogen (AIEgen), abbreviated as TPE-TETRAD, with a favorable absorption and efficient deep-red emission in the solid state. TPE-TETRAD possesses a high two-photon absorption cross-section (313 MG at 830 nm) and a rich array of non-linear optical properties including aggregation-induced three-photon luminescence. Biotinylated TPE-TETRAD nanoparticles are also fabricated and applied to stain mitochondria in live cancer cells with high specificity. The purpose of this study is to characterize a novel deep-red AIEgen and fabricate biotinylated nanoparticles for applications as (1) biocompatible and photostable AIE probes for specific mitochondria imaging and (2) multiphoton imaging probes suitable for two/three-photon fluorescence microscopy.
Project description:Fluorescent probes are one of the most popularly used bioimaging markers to monitor metabolic processes of living cells. However, long-term light excitation always leads to photobleaching of fluorescent probes, unavoidable autofluorescence as well as photodamage of cells. To overcome these limitations, we synthesized a type of photostable luminogen named TPE-TPP with an aggregation induced emission (AIE) characteristic, and achieved its three-photon imaging with femtosecond laser excitation of 1020?nm. By using TPE-TPP as fluorescent probes, three-photon microscopy under 1020?nm excitation showed little photo-damage, as well as low autofluorescence to HeLa cells. Due to the AIE effect, the TPE-TPP nanoaggregates uptaken by cells were resistant to photobleaching under three-photon excitation for an extended period of time. Furthermore, we demonstrated that for the present TPE-TPP AIE the three-photon microscopy (with 1020?nm excitation) had a better signal to noise ratio than the two-photon microscopy (with 810?nm excitation) in tissue imaging.
Project description:Articulated structures of naphthalene-based donor (D)-acceptor (A) type dipolar dye and aggregation-induced emission luminogen (AIEgen) based on tetraphenylethylene (TPE) were synthesized, and their photophysical properties were analyzed for the first time. There are many fluorophore backbones, which have dipolar structure and AIEgen. However, there has been neither property analysis nor research that closely articulates DA and AIE through non-conjugation linker. We have therefore prepared two representative fluorophores; DA-AIE series (DA-AIE-M and DA-AIE-D), and characterized their UV/vis absorption and emission properties with quantum chemical calculations. In addition, we utilized the unique photophysical properties of DA-AIE-D for monitoring a trace of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) in aqueous media, including real water samples.
Project description:A facile and efficient approach for design and synthesis of organic fluorescent nanogels has been developed by using a pre-synthesized polymeric precursor. This strategy is achieved by two key steps: (i) precise synthesis of core?shell star-shaped block copolymers with crosslinkable AIEgen-precursor (AIEgen: aggregation induced emission luminogen) as pending groups on the inner blocks; (ii) gelation of the inner blocks by coupling the AIEgen-precursor moieties to generate AIE-active spacers, and thus, fluorescent nanogel. By using this strategy, a series of star-shaped block copolymers with benzophenone groups pending on the inner blocks were synthesized by grafting from a hexafunctional initiator through atom transfer radical copolymerization (ATRP) of 4-benzoylphenyl methacrylate (BPMA) or 2-(4-benzoylphenoxy)ethyl methacrylate (BPOEMA) with methyl methacrylate (MMA) and tert-butyldimethylsilyl-protected 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (ProHEMA) followed by a sequential ATRP to grow PMMA or PProHEMA. The pendent benzophenone groups were coupled by McMurry reaction to generate tetraphenylethylene (TPE) groups which served as AIE-active spacers, affording a fluorescent nanogel. The nanogel showed strong emission not only at aggregated state but also in dilute solution due to the strongly restricted inter- and intramolecular movement of TPE moiety in the crosslinked polymeric network. The nanogel has been used as a fluorescent macromolecular additive to fabricate fluorescent film.
Project description:In neuroscience, fluorescence labeled two-photon microscopy is a promising tool to visualize ex vivo and in vivo tissue morphology, and track dynamic neural activities. Specific and highly photostable fluorescent probes are required in this technology. However, most fluorescent proteins and organic fluorophores suffer from photobleaching, so they are not suitable for long-term imaging and observation. To overcome this problem, we utilize tetraphenylethene-triphenylphosphonium (TPE-TPP), which possesses aggregation-induced emission (AIE) and two-photon fluorescence characteristics, for neuroimaging. The unique AIE feature of TPE-TPP makes its nanoaggregates resistant to photobleaching, which is useful to track neural cells and brain-microglia for a long period of time. Two-photon fluorescence of TPE-TPP facilitates its application in deep in vivo neuroimaging, as demonstrated in the present paper.
Project description:Development of fluorescent probes for on-site sensing and long-term tracking of specific biomarkers is particularly desirable for the early detection of diseases. However, available small-molecule probes tend to facilely diffuse across the cell membrane or remain at the activation site but always suffer from the aggregation-caused quenching (ACQ) effect. Here we report an enzyme-activatable aggregation-induced emission (AIE) probe QM-?gal, which is composed of a hydrophilic ?-galactosidase (?-gal)-triggered galactose moiety and a hydrophobic AIE-active fluorophore QM-OH. The probe is virtually non-emissive in aqueous media, but when activated by ?-gal, specific enzymatic turnover would liberate hydrophobic AIE luminogen (AIEgen) QM-OH, and then highly fluorescent nanoaggregates are in situ generated as a result of the AIE process, allowing for on-site sensing of endogenous ?-gal activity in living cells. Notably, taking advantage of the improved intracellular retention of nanoaggregates, we further exemplify QM-?gal for long-term (?12 h) visualization of ?-gal-overexpressing ovarian cancer cells with high fidelity, which is essential for biomedicine and diagnostics. Thus, this enzyme-activatable AIE probe not only is a potent tool for elucidating the roles of ?-gal in biological systems, but also offers an enzyme-regulated liberation strategy to exploit multifunctional probes for preclinical applications.
Project description:Luminogens with aggregation-induced emission (AIE) characteristics are nowadays undergoing explosive development in the fields of imaging, process visualization, diagnosis and therapy. However, exploration of an AIE luminogen (AIEgen) system allowing for extremely wide color tunability remains challenging. In this contribution, the facile synthesis of triphenylamine (TPA)-thiophene building block-based AIEgens having tunable maximum emission wavelengths covering violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, deep red and NIR regions is reported. The obtained AIEgens can be utilized as extraordinary fluorescent probes for lipid droplet (LD)-specific cell imaging and cell fusion assessment, showing excellent image contrast to the cell background and high photostability, as well as satisfactory visualization outcomes. Interestingly, quantitative evaluation of the phototherapy effect demonstrates that one of these presented AIEgens, namely TTNIR, performs well as a photosensitizer for photodynamic ablation of cancer cells upon white light irradiation. This study thus provides useful insights into rational design of fluorescence systems for widely tuning emission colors with high brightness, and remarkably extends the applications of AIEgens.
Project description:Stimuli-responsive functional gels have shown significant potential for application in biosensing and drug release systems. In this study, aggregation-induced emission luminogen (AIEgen)-functionalized, diselenide-crosslinked polymer gels were synthesized via free radical copolymerization. A series of polymer gels with different crosslink densities or tetraphenylethylene (TPE) contents were synthesized. The diselenide crosslinker in the gels could be fragmented in the presence of H2O2 or dithiothreitol (DTT) due to its redox-responsive property. Thus, the TPE-containing polymer chains were released into the aqueous solution. As a result, the aqueous solution exhibited enhanced fluorescence emission due to the strong hydrophobicity of TPE. The degradation of polymer gels and fluorescence enhancement in an aqueous solution under different H2O2 or DTT concentrations were studied. Furthermore, the polymer gels could be used as drug carriers, suggesting a visual drug release process under the action of external redox agents. The AIEgen-functionalized, diselenide-crosslinked polymer gels hold great potential in the biomedical area for biosensing and controlled drug delivery.
Project description:The synthesis of water-soluble near-infrared (NIR)-emissive fluorescent molecules with aggregation-induced emission (AIE) characteristics and theranostic functions is highly desirable but remains challenging. In this work, we designed and readily prepared for the first time such a molecule with AIE features, good water-solubility and intense emission in the NIR region. This AIE luminogen (AIEgen) is able to specifically "light up" the cell membrane without the involvement of a washing procedure. Interestingly, the staining process can be performed by simply shaking the culture with cells at room temperature for only a few seconds after the addition of the AIEgen, indicating an ultrafast and easy-to-operate staining protocol. This is the first fluorescent "light-up" probe for cell-imaging that allows the combination of a short staining period (at the second-level) with a wash-free process. Additionally, the presented AIEgen has also been developed to serve as an excellent phototherapeutic agent for high efficiency generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) upon visible light irradiation, which allows its effective application in the photodynamic ablation of cancer cells, demonstrating its dual role as an imaging and phototherapeutic agent.
Project description:Photosensitizers are generally treated as key components for photodynamic therapy. In contrast, we herein report an aggregation-induced emission luminogen (AIEgen)-based photosensitizer (TPE-Py-FFGYSA) that can serve as a non-toxic adjuvant to amplify the antitumor efficacy of paclitaxel, a well-known anticancer drug, with a synergistic effect of "0 + 1 > 1". Besides the adjuvant function, TPE-Py-FFGYSA can selectively light up EphA2 protein clusters overexpressed in cancer cells in a fluorescence turn-on mode, by taking advantage of the specific YSA peptide (YSAYPDSVPMMS)-EphA2 protein interaction. The simple incorporation of FFG as a self-assembly-aided unit between AIEgen (TPE-Py) and YSA significantly enhances the fluorescent signal output of TPE-Py when imaging EphA2 clusters in live cancer cells. Cytotoxicity and western blot studies reveal that the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by TPE-Py-FFGYSA upon exposure to light do not kill cancer cells, but instead provide an intracellular oxidative environment to help paclitaxel have much better efficacy. This study thus not only extends the application scope of photosensitizers, but also offers a unique theranostic system with the combination of diagnostic imaging and adjuvant antitumor therapy.
Project description:Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. With the advantages of low cost, high sensitivity and ease of accessibility, fluorescence imaging has been widely used for cancer detection in the scientific field. Aggregation-induced emission luminogens (AIEgens) are a class of synthesized fluorescent probes with high brightness and photostability in the aggregate state. Herein, a new positively-charged AIEgen, abbreviated as TPE-IQ-2O, is designed and characterized. TPE-IQ-2O not only can distinguish cancer cells from normal cells with high contrast with the aid of the difference in mitochondrial membrane potential as well as the quantity of mitochondria, but it also works as a promising photosensitizer to kill cancer cells through generation of reactive oxygen species upon white light irradiation, thus making it a promising AIE theranostic system.