Organic fluorescent probes for monitoring autophagy in living cells†
As a ubiquitous degradation process in cells, autophagy plays important roles in various biological activities. However, the abnormality of autophagy is closely related to many diseases, such as aging, neurological disorder, and cancer. Thus, monitoring the process of autophagy in living cells has high significance in biological studies and diagnosis of related diseases. In order to real-time and in situ monitor the process of autophagy, various organic fluorescent probes have been explored in recent years owing to the advantages such as handy staining processes, flexible molecular design strategies, and near-nondestructive detection. However, this interesting and frontier topic has not been reviewed so far. In this tutorial review, we will focus on the latest breakthrough results of organic fluorescent probes in monitoring autophagy of living cells, especially the probe design strategies based on the several microenvironment changes of the autophagy process, and the responding mechanisms and bio-imaging applications in the autophagy process. In addition, we will discuss the shortcomings and limitations of the probes developed, such as susceptible to interference, unable to monitor the whole process, and lack of clinical applications. Finally, we will highlight some challenges and further opportunities in this field. This tutorial review may promote the development of more robust fluorescent probes to further reveal the mechanisms of autophagy, which is the basis of degradation and recycling of cell components.