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Discovery of the First Environment-Sensitive Near-Infrared (NIR) Fluorogenic Ligand for α1‑Adrenergic Receptors Imaging in Vivo

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posted on 09.02.2016 by Zhao Ma, Yuxing Lin, Yanna Cheng, Wenxiao Wu, Rong Cai, Shouzhen Chen, Benkang Shi, Bo Han, Xiaodong Shi, Yubin Zhou, Lupei Du, Minyong Li
Fluorescent ligands are gaining popularity as tools to aid GPCR research. Nonetheless, in vivo application of such tools is hampered due to their short excitation wavelengths in the visible range and lack of fluorogenic switch. Here we report the discovery of fluorescent ligands (3af) for α1-adrenergic receptors (α1-ARs) by conjugating the environment-sensitive fluorophore cyane 5 (Cy5) with the quinazoline pharmacophore. Among them, the conjugated compound 3a, with acylated piperazine and the shortest carbon chain spacer, exhibited potent binding and remarkable changes in fluorescence (10-fold) upon binding to α1-AR. Furthermore, it could be employed to selectively and specifically label α1-ARs with no washing procedures in single cells, prostate tissue slices, intact tumor xenografts and organs in living mice. Especially, the slice imaging results gave direct and visual evidence that there is a close relationship between α1-ARs and pathological prostate. It is anticipated that our fluorescent tools will find broad applications in the study of α1-AR pharmacology and physiology to aid development of novel therapeutics.