Fluorescent Probe Spots CO In Cells | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 40 | p. 53 | Concentrates
Issue Date: October 1, 2012

Fluorescent Probe Spots CO In Cells

Palladium complex may help scientists figure out carbon monoxide’s role in human biology
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Analytical SCENE, Biological SCENE, Materials SCENE
Keywords: monoxide, CO, fluorescent probe, cell imaging
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FLUORESCENT
This dimeric palladium-based probe reacts with CO to produce a molecule that lights up live cells.
A reaction scheme showing how a palladium-based probe reacts with carbon monoxide to produce a molecule that fluoresces green.
 
FLUORESCENT
This dimeric palladium-based probe reacts with CO to produce a molecule that lights up live cells.

A palladium-based molecular probe that forms a fluorescent compound upon reacting with carbon monoxide could allow scientists to study the gas’s nontoxic role in human biology, according to the probe’s developers (J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/ja307017b). Human cells produce CO, but no one knows why, says Christopher J. Chang of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the research team. To measure CO inside living cells in real time, Chang and his colleagues designed a probe based on palladium, because the metal readily binds CO. Upon binding CO, the probe reacts with the gas molecules, and as a result, CO is incorporated into the metal’s ligand to produce a fluorescent derivative. As a test of the probe, the researchers incubated kidney cells with or without a molecule that releases CO and then added the palladium compound to the medium. With a confocal microscope, the researchers observed that cells containing the CO-releasing molecule began to glow within 45 minutes, whereas the other cells remained dark. The probe detects CO levels in the low micromolar to high nanomolar range, Chang says.

 
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