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Development of Selective Colorimetric Probes for Hydrogen Sulfide Based on Nucleophilic Aromatic Substitution

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journal contribution
posted on 05.07.2013, 00:00 by Leticia A. Montoya, Taylor F. Pearce, Ryan J. Hansen, Lev N. Zakharov, Michael D. Pluth
Hydrogen sulfide is an important biological signaling molecule and an important environmental target for detection. A major challenge in developing H2S detection methods is separating the often similar reactivity of thiols and other nucleophiles from H2S. To address this need, the nucleophilic aromatic substitution (SNAr) reaction of H2S with electron-poor aromatic electrophiles was developed as a strategy to separate H2S and thiol reactivity. Treatment of aqueous solutions of nitrobenzofurazan (7-nitro-1,2,3-benzoxadiazole, NBD) thioethers with H2S resulted in thiol extrusion and formation of nitrobenzofurazan thiol (λmax = 534 nm). This reactivity allows for unwanted thioether products to be converted to the desired nitrobenzofurazan thiol upon reaction with H2S. The scope of the reaction was investigated using a Hammett linear free energy relationship study, and the determined ρ = +0.34 is consistent with the proposed SN2Ar reaction mechanism. The efficacy of the developed probes was demonstrated in buffer and in serum with associated submicromolar detection limits as low as 190 nM (buffer) and 380 nM (serum). Furthermore, the sigmoidal response of nitrobenzofurazan electrophiles with H2S can be fit to accurately quantify H2S. The developed detection strategy offers a manifold for H2S detection that we foresee being applied in various future applications.