A fluorescent probe for intracellular cysteine overcoming the interference by glutathione

Minggang Tian, Fuqiang Guo, Yuming Sun, Weijia Zhang, Fang Miao, Yong Liu, Guofen Song, Cheuk Lam HO, Xiaoqiang Yu*, Jing Zhi Sun, Wai Yeung WONG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Cysteine (Cys) plays important roles in many physiological processes of eukaryotic cells and its detection in cells is of fundamental significance. However, glutathione (GSH), homocysteine, N-acetyl-l-cysteine and other thiols greatly hamper the detection of Cys. In particular, GSH strongly interferes with the detection of cellular Cys (30-200 μM) due to its high intracellular concentration (1-10 mM). In this work, an off-on fluorescent probe (HOTA) for the detection of Cys is presented. This probe possesses both excellent sensitivity and satisfactory selectivity for cellular Cys detection: with the addition of 200 μM Cys, the fluorescence intensity of the probe (10 μM) enhanced 117-fold and the detection limit was calculated to be 13.47 μM, which is lower than the cellular Cys concentration; the probe also selectively detected 30-200 μM cysteine over 1-10 mM glutathione. Consequently, cell imaging experiments were performed with probe HOTA. Furthermore, the results of the thiol-blocking and GSH synthesis inhibiting experiments confirmed that the intracellular emission mainly originates from the interaction between Cys and HOTA. This journal is

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6128-6133
Number of pages6
JournalOrganic and Biomolecular Chemistry
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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