Identification of Tumor Initiating Cells with a Small-Molecule Fluorescent Probe by Using Vimentin as a Biomarker

Yong An Lee, Jong Jin Kim, Jungyeol Lee, Jia Hui Jane Lee, Srikanta Sahu, Haw Young Kwon, Sung Jin Park, Se Young Jang, Jun Seok Lee, Zhenxun Wang, Wai Leong Tam, Bing Lim, Nam Young Kang, Young Tae Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Tumor initiating cells (TICs) have been implicated in clinical relapse and metastasis of a variety of epithelial cancers, including lung cancer. While efforts toward the development of specific probes for TIC detection and targeting are ongoing, a universal TIC probe has yet to be developed. We report the first TIC-specific fluorescent chemical probe, TiY, with identification of the molecular target as vimentin, a marker for epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). TiY selectively stains TICs over differentiated tumor cells or normal cells, and facilitates the visualization and enrichment of functionally active TICs from patient tumors. At high concentration, TiY also shows anti-TIC activity with low toxicity to non-TICs. With the unexplored target vimentin, TiY shows potential as a first universal probe for TIC detection in different cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2851-2854
Number of pages4
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar 5
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by an intramural funding from the A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore) Biomedical Research Council, Institute for Basic Science (IBS) IBS-R007-A1, and the National Medical Research Council grant NMRC/TCR/016-NNI/2016. We thank SBIC-Nikon Imaging Centre for confocal microscopy facilities.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim


  • antitumor agents
  • biomarkers
  • cancer
  • fluorescent probes
  • high-throughput screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry


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