Hu, J.J., Wong, N.K., Ye, S., Chen, X., Lu, M.Y., Zhao, A.Q., Guo, Y., Ma, A.C., Leung, A.Y., Shen, J., Yang, D. (2015) Fluorescent Probe HKSOX-1 for Imaging and Detection of Endogenous Superoxide in Live Cells and In Vivo. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 137(21):6837-43.
Superoxide anion radical (O2(•-)) is undoubtedly the most important primary reactive oxygen species (ROS) found in cells, whose formation and fate are intertwined with diverse physiological and pathological processes. Here we report a highly sensitive and selective O2(•-) detecting strategy involving O2(•-) cleavage of an aryl trifluoromethanesulfonate group to yield a free phenol. We have synthesized three new O2(•-) fluorescent probes (HKSOX-1, HKSOX-1r for cellular retention, and HKSOX-1m for mitochondria-targeting) which exhibit excellent selectivity and sensitivity toward O2(•-) over a broad range of pH, strong oxidants, and abundant reductants found in cells. In confocal imaging, flow cytometry, and 96-well microplate assay, HKSOX-1r has been robustly applied to detect O2(•-) in multiple cellular models, such as inflammation and mitochondrial stress. Additionally, our probes can be efficiently applied to visualize O2(•-) in intact live zebrafish embryos. These probes open up exciting opportunities for unmasking the roles of O2(•-) in health and disease.