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Using highly emissive and environmentally sensitive o-carborane-functionalized metallophosphors to monitor mitochondrial polarity

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Abstract

Mitochondria as vital intracellular organelles play critical roles in multiple physiological processes, and their polarity is a crucial characteristic that can reveal the intracellular environment and impact cellular events. In this work, we designed and synthesized a novel series of highly emissive and environmentally sensitive phosphorescent iridium(III) complexes (2a–2e, 3a–3e and 4) functionalized by o-carborane. These complexes showed high emission quantum yields both in solution and in solid state (up to ΦPL = 0.82), long emission lifetime and tunable emission wavelength over 74 nm by introduction of a carboranyl motif in their ligands. Importantly, all the complexes have shown significant solvatochromic effects in contrast to the carborane-free control complex. Among them, complex 2d shows the highest sensitivity to polarity of solvents with a MPPS (maximum peak phosphorescence shift) value of 42 nm and clear dependence of phosphorescence lifetime on solvent polarity. Interestingly, complex 2d can easily penetrate into cells and preferentially distribute in mitochondria. To utilize these properties, the first phosphorescent imaging of mitochondrial polarity has been realized by photoluminescence lifetime imaging microscopy (PLIM), which can monitor mitochondria-relevant cellular processes such as cell apoptosis and distinguish cancer cells from normal cells. Compared to intensity-based sensing, lifetime-based detection is independent of the probe concentration, excitation power and photobleaching of probes, which can show high accuracy and reproducibility.

Graphical abstract: Using highly emissive and environmentally sensitive o-carborane-functionalized metallophosphors to monitor mitochondrial polarity

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Publication details

The article was received on 12 Jan 2017, accepted on 28 May 2017 and first published on 30 May 2017


Article type: Edge Article
DOI: 10.1039/C7SC00160F
Citation: Chem. Sci., 2017, Advance Article
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY-NC license
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    Using highly emissive and environmentally sensitive o-carborane-functionalized metallophosphors to monitor mitochondrial polarity

    X. Li, X. Tong, Y. Yin, H. Yan, C. Lu, W. Huang and Q. Zhao, Chem. Sci., 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7SC00160F

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