Indole-based Cyanine as a Nuclear RNA-Selective Two-Photon Fluorescent Probe for Live Cell Imaging

Lei Guo, Miu Shan Chan, Di Xu, Dick Yan Tam, Frédéric Bolze*, Pik Kwan Lo*, Man Shing Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


We have demonstrated that the subcellular targeting properties of the indole-based cyanines can be tuned by the functional substituent attached onto the indole moiety in which the first example of a highly RNA-selective and two-photon active fluorescent light-up probe for high contrast and brightness TPEF images of rRNA in the nucleolus of live cells has been developed. It is important to find that this cyanine binds much stronger toward RNA than DNA in a buffer solution as well as selectively stains and targets to rRNA in the nucleolus. Remarkably, the TPEF brightness (Φσmax) is dramatically increased with 11-fold enhancement in the presence of rRNA, leading to the record high Φσmax of 228 GM for RNA. This probe not only shows good biocompatibility and superior photostability but also offers general applicability to various live cell lines including HeLa, HepG2, MCF-7, and KB cells and excellent counterstaining compatibility with commercially available DNA or protein trackers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1171-1175
Number of pages5
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number5
Early online date19 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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