Iridium Illuminates Nuclei Of Living Cells | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 28 | p. 31 | Concentrates
Issue Date: July 11, 2011

Iridium Illuminates Nuclei Of Living Cells

Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Analytical SCENE, JACS In C&EN
Keywords: imaging, cell, nucleus, iridium, protein
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The nucleus of a living cancer cell lights up because of this fluorescing iridium complex.
Credit: J. Am. Chem. Soc.
An iridium complex fluoresces from the nucleus of a living cancer cell.
 
The nucleus of a living cancer cell lights up because of this fluorescing iridium complex.
Credit: J. Am. Chem. Soc.
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[Ir(polypyridyl)2(dimethylsulfoxide)2]PF6
 [Ir(polypyridyl)2(dimethylsulfoxide)2]PF6 structure
 
[Ir(polypyridyl)2(dimethylsulfoxide)2]PF6

An iridium complex turns on and lights up the nuclei of living cells by binding to histidine rather than to DNA, unlike other nuclear imaging agents, reports Fuyou Li and colleagues of China’s Fudan University (J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/ja202344c). The complex, [Ir(polypyridyl)2(dimethylsulfox­ide)2]PF6, demonstrates little fluorescence as a solid or alone in solution. But when the complex binds to free histidine or histidine-containing proteins and is excited by 488-nm light, it fluoresces intensely. Although the complex can react with cytoplasmic proteins, an active transport mechanism—possibly a transport protein—spontaneously brings it into living cells and segregates it to the nucleus. The complex stains cellular nuclei within a few minutes and has low toxicity, the researchers note.

 
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