Multifunctional fluorescent nanoprobe for sequential detections of Hg2+ Ions and biothiols in live cells

Lu He, Hui Tao, Seyoung Koo, Guo Chen, Amit Sharma, Yong Chen, In Taek Lim, Qian Yong Cao, Jong Seung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Herein, we report an amphiphilic fluorescent probe consisting of a dansyl fluorophore as a reporter and a hydrophobic cetyl chain bridged by a triazole unit. The cetyl-based probe can self-assemble to form nanoaggregates in aqueous solution, as confirmed by Tyndall effect, dynamic light scattering (DLS), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) measurements. This probe exhibited an "on-off" fluorescence quenching response toward Hg2+ ions in aqueous solution over other tested metal ions. In contrast, the analogous methyl-based probe barely exhibits Hg2+ ion sensing behavior under the same conditions. Moreover, the resulting complex of the cetyl-based probe and Hg2+ (1-Hg2+, 1:1 stoichiometry) exhibited an efficient fluorescence "off-on" sensing for thiol-containing amino acids, including cysteine (Cys), homocysteine (Hcy), and glutathione (GSH). This nanoprobe exhibited minimal cytotoxicity with excellent cell permeability and was efficiently tested for the imaging of intracellular Hg2+ and cysteine in live cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-878
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Bio Materials
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sept 17

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (21462027 and 21762028) and the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangxi Province (20171BAB203009), and by a CRI project (Grant 2018R1A3B1052702, J.S.K.) of the NRF in Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Chemical Society.


  • Fluorescence imaging
  • Mercury sensing
  • Nanoaggregates
  • Thiols recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, medical
  • General Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


Dive into the research topics of 'Multifunctional fluorescent nanoprobe for sequential detections of Hg2+ Ions and biothiols in live cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this