This paper describes the design and synthesis of a conjugate (Q7R) comprising the synthetic host cucurbituril (Q7) linked to the fluorescent dye tetramethylrhodamine (TMR), and the characterization of its optical and guest-binding properties as well as its cellular uptake. Q7R was synthesized in two steps from monofunctionalized azidobutyl-Q7 and NHS-activated TMR. The fluorescence of Q7R is quenched upon guest binding, and this observable was used to determine equilibrium dissociation constant (Kd) values. Unexpectedly, the Kd values for guests binding to Q7R and to unmodified Q7 were essentially identical. Therefore, Q7R can directly report binding to Q7 without an energetic penalty due to the conjugated fluorophore. This result demonstrates a potentially general strategy for the design of single-component host-indicator conjugates that respond sensitively to analytes without perturbing the binding properties of the host. The unique properties of Q7R enabled measurement of Kd values across 3 orders of magnitude and at concentrations as low as 0.7 nM. This result is particularly relevant given the unmatched range of guests and binding affinities demonstrated for Q7. Confocal fluorescence microscopy of live and fixed HT22 neurons revealed the cellular uptake of Q7R and its punctate localization in the cytoplasm. Q7R did not alter cell growth at concentrations up to 2.2 μM over 4 days. These experiments demonstrate the feasibility of Q7R as a direct sensor for guest binding and as a cell-permeable compound for imaging applications. © 2016 American Chemical Society.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Bockus, A. T., Smith, L. C., Grice, A. G., Ali, O. A., Young, C. C., Mobley, W., . . . Urbach, A. R. (2016). Cucurbituril-tetramethylrhodamine conjugate for direct sensing and cellular imaging. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 138(50), 16549-16552. doi:10.1021/jacs.6b11140
Journal of the American Chemical Society