Chemiluminescent Probe for the In Vitro and In Vivo Imaging of Cancers Over-Expressing NQO1

Subin Son, Miae Won, Ori Green, Nir Hananya, Amit Sharma, Yukyoung Jeon, Jong Hwan Kwak, Jonathan L. Sessler, Doron Shabat, Jong Seung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Activatable (turn-on) probes that permit the rapid, sensitive, selective, and accurate identification of cancer-associated biomarkers can help drive advances in cancer research. Herein, a NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase-1 (NQO1)-specific chemiluminescent probe 1 is reported that allows the differentiation between cancer subtypes. Probe 1 incorporates an NQO1-specific trimethyl-locked quinone trigger moiety covalently tethered to a phenoxy-dioxetane moiety through a para-aminobenzyl alcohol linker. Bio-reduction of the quinone to the corresponding hydroquinone results in a chemiluminescent signal. As inferred from a combination of in vitro cell culture analyses and in vivo mice studies, the probe is safe, cell permeable, and capable of producing a “turn-on” luminescence response in an NQO1-positive A549 lung cancer model. On this basis, probe 1 can be used to identify cancerous cells and tissues characterized by elevated NQO1 levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1739-1743
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 4


  • NQO1
  • chemiluminescence
  • in vivo imaging
  • molecular probe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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