Design strategy for photoinduced electron transfer-based small-molecule fluorescent probes of biomacromolecules
As the cardinal support of innumerable biological processes, biomacromolecules such as proteins, nucleic acids and polysaccharides are of importance to living systems. The key to understanding biological processes is to realize the role of these biomacromolecules in thte localization, distribution, conformation and interaction with other molecules. With the current development and adaptation of fluorescent technologies in biomedical and pharmaceutical fields, the fluorescence imaging (FLI) approach of using small-molecule fluorescent probes is becoming an up-to-the-minute method for the detection and monitoring of these imperative biomolecules in life sciences. However, conventional small-molecule fluorescent probes may provide undesirable results because of their intrinsic deficiencies such as low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and false-positive errors. Recently, small-molecule fluorescent probes with a photoinduced electron transfer (PET) “on/off” switch for biomacromolecules have been thoroughly considered. When recognized by the biomacromolecules, these probes turn on/off the PET switch and change the fluorescence intensity to present a high SNR result. It should be emphasized that these PET-based fluorescent probes could be advantageous for understanding the pathogenesis of various diseases caused by abnormal expression of biomacromolecules. The discussion of this successful strategy involved in this review will be a valuable guide for the further development of new PET-based small-molecule fluorescent probes for biomacromolecules.