A luminescent aluminium salen complex allows for monitoring dynamic vesicle trafficking from the Golgi apparatus to lysosomes in living cells†
The Golgi apparatus is well-known as the center of vesicle trafficking whose malfunction might cause the breakdown of overall cellular architecture and ultimately cell death. The development of fluorescent probes to not only precisely stain the Golgi apparatus but also monitor dynamic vesicle trafficking is of great significance. While fluorescent proteins and fluorescent lipid analogs have been reported, they are sometime limited by either overexpression and toxicity or lack of high selectivity, respectively. We herein report a novel approach based on metal-induced coordination between the phosphate anions of phospholipids and the metal center of a luminescent Alsalen complex AlL, which can in situ track membrane vesicle trafficking from the Golgi apparatus to the lysosomes in living cells. This work opens a new avenue for designing luminescent metal probes based on the Lewis acidity of metal ions and allows the use of metal ions with different charge states, polarities, and reactivities within a similar structural scaffold to expand coordination chemistry for biological studies.