Ratiometric fluorescent sensing of the parallel G-quadruplex produced by PS2.M: implications for K+ detection†
Fluorescent ligands that selectively bind to a specific G-quadruplex (GQ) topology (antiparallel, hybrid or parallel) are highly sought after for aptasensor development and nanodevice construction. The coumarin–benzothiazole hybrid (BnBtC) is an internal charge transfer (ICT) ratiometric fluorescent probe, which displays two well-resolved emission bands at ∼450 nm for the coumarin component and ∼650 nm for the ICT band. The red ICT emission of BnBtC displays turn-on responses to protic solvent polarity and upon binding GQ structures, especially those produced by the hemin binding aptamer (PS2.M). In the present work, BnBtC was found to exhibit enhanced ICT emission upon binding the parallel GQ topology of PS2.M that is selectively produced in the presence of K+. This ability to discriminate K+ from other cationic metal ions through a turn-on ratiometric fluorescent response demonstrates the potential utility of the BnBtC probe for biosensor applications.