Visualization of tumor-specific protein biomarkers on cell membranes has the potential to contribute greatly to basic biological research and therapeutic applications. We recently reported a unique supramolecular strategy for specific protein detection using self-assembling fluorescent nanoprobes consisting of a hydrophilic protein ligand and a hydrophobic BODIPY fluorophore in test tube settings. This method is based on recognition-driven disassembly of the nanoprobes, which induces a clear turn-on fluorescent signal. In the present study, we have successfully extended the range of applicable fluorophores to the more hydrophilic ones such as fluorescein or rhodamine by introducing a hydrophobic module near the fluorophore. Increasing the range of available fluorophores allowed selective imaging of membrane-bound proteins under live cell conditions. That is, overexpressed folate receptor (FR) or hypoxia-inducible membrane-bound carbonic anhydrases (CA) on live cell surfaces as cancer-specific biomarkers were fluorescently visualized using the designed supramolecular nanoprobes in the turn-on manner. Moreover, a cell-based inhibitor-assay platform for CA on a live cell surface was constructed, highlighting the potential applicability of the self-assembling turn-on probes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry