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Selective selenol fluorescent probes: design, synthesis, structural determinants, and biological applications

Selective selenol fluorescent probes: design, synthesis, structural determinants, and biological applications

Journal of the American Chemical Society 137(2): 757-769

Selenium (Se) is an essential micronutrient element, and the biological significance of Se is predominantly dependent on its incorporation as selenocysteine (Sec), the genetically encoded 21st amino acid in protein synthesis, into the active site of selenoproteins, which have broad functions, ranging from redox regulation and anti-inflammation to the production of active thyroid hormones. Compared to its counterpart Cys, there are only limited probes for selective recognition of Sec, and such selectivity is strictly restricted at low pH conditions. We reported herein the design, synthesis, and biological evaluations of a series of potential Sec probes based on the mechanism of nucleophilic aromatic substitution. After the initial screening, the structural determinants for selective recognition of Sec were recapitulated. The follow-up studies identified that probe 19 (Sel-green) responds to Sec and other selenols with more than 100-fold increase of emission in neutral aqueous solution (pH 7.4), while there is no significant interference from the biological thiols, amines, or alcohols. Sel-green was successfully applied to quantify the Sec content in the selenoenzyme thioredoxin reductase and image endogenous Sec in live HepG2 cells. With the aid of Sel-green, we further demonstrated that the cytotoxicity of different selenocompounds is correlated to their ability metabolizing to selenols in cells. To the best of our knowledge, Sel-green is the first selenol probe that works under physiological conditions. The elucidation of the structure-activity relationship for selective recognition of selenols paves the way for further design of novel probes to better understand the pivotal role of Sec as well as selenoproteins in vivo.

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Accession: 058822116

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PMID: 25562612

DOI: 10.1021/ja5099676

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