An AIE-Based Probe for Rapid and Ultrasensitive Imaging of Plasma Membranes in Biosystems

Lei Shi, Yan Hong Liu, Kun Li, Amit Sharma, Kang Kang Yu, Myung Sun Ji, Ling Ling Li, Qian Zhou, Hong Zhang, Jong Seung Kim, Xiao Qi Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


The abnormality of the plasma membrane (PM) is an important biomarker for cell status and many diseases. Hence, visualizing the PM, especially in complex systems, is an emerging field in the life sciences, especially in low-resource settings. Herein, we developed a water-soluble PM-specific probe utilizing electrostatic and hydrophobic interaction strategies with aggregation-induced emission as the signal output. The probe could image the PM with many advanced features (wash-free, ultrafast staining process, excellent PM specificity, and good biocompatibility), which were demonstrated by the PM imaging of neurons. The probe allowed for the first time the imaging of erythrocytes in the complex brain environment through a fluorescence-based method. Moreover, the PM of the epidermal and partial view of the eyeball structure of live zebrafish are also revealed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9962-9966
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no 21572147, 21877082) and 2018R1A3B1052702 and NRF-2019M3E5D1A01068998, J.S.K.). The helpful discussion with Prof. Peng Wu from the Analytical & Testing Center at Sichuan University was greatly appreciated. We also thank the Comprehensive Training Platform of Specialized Laboratory, College of Chemistry, Sichuan University for sample analysis. We also thank Bitplane China team for the 3D reconstruction images processing.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim


  • aggregation-induced emission
  • fluorescent probes
  • neurons
  • plasma membranes
  • structural biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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