American Chemical Society
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Dual-Modal Colorimetric/Fluorescence Molecular Probe for Ratiometric Sensing of pH and Its Application

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-07-19, 00:00 authored by Luling Wu, Xiaolin Li, Chusen Huang, Nengqin Jia
As traditional pH meters cannot work well for minute regions (such as subcellular organelles) and in harsh media, molecular pH-sensitive devices for monitoring pH changes in diverse local heterogeneous environments are urgently needed. Here, we report a new dual-modal colorimetric/fluorescence merocyanine-based molecular probe (CPH) for ratiometric sensing of pH. Compared with previously reported pH probes, CPH bearing the benzyl group at the nitrogen position of the indolium group and the phenol, which is used as the acceptor for proton, could respond to pH changes immediately through both the ratiometric fluorescence signal readout and naked-eye colorimetric observation. The sensing process was highly stable and reversible. Most importantly, the suitable pKa value (6.44) allows CPH to presumably accumulate in lysosomes and become a lysosome-target fluorescent probe. By using CPH, the intralysosomal pH fluctuation stimulated by antimalaria drug chloroquine was successfully tracked in live cells through the ratiometric fluorescence images. Additionally, CPH could be immobilized on test papers, which exhibited a rapid and reversible colorimetric response to acid/base vapor through the naked-eye colorimetric analysis. This proof-of-concept study presents the potential application of CPH as a molecular tool for monitoring intralysosomal pH fluctuation in live cells, as well as paves the way for developing the economic, reusable, and fast-response optical pH meters for colorimetric sensing acid/base vapor with direct naked-eye observation.