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Self-Calibrating Bipartite Fluorescent Sensor for Nitroreductase Activity and Its Application to Cancer and Hypoxic Cells

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journal contribution
posted on 12.10.2020, 21:05 by Shin A Yoon, Jieun Chun, Chulhun Kang, Min Hee Lee
Aromatic nitro compounds are reduced to their corresponding amino derivatives by nitroreductases (NTR), while identification and characterization of the corresponding enzymes in mammalian systems are yet unrevealed. However, mammalian NTR activity has been considered as a favorable target in development of theranostic agents for cancer and hypoxia of solid tumors. Currently, small molecule-based fluorescent probes have emerged as a valuable assay tool for NTR activity. However, there has been a limit to comparing NTR activity between different cells, since most probes have relied on fluorescence changes that are affected by not only enzymatic activity but also nonenzymatic factors. Here, we developed a self-calibrating bipartite fluorescent probe, consisting of NTR-sensitive nitronaphthalimide and nonsensitive coumarin moieties. Thereby, it was possible to compare the relative NTR activity by monitoring fluorescence ratios in noncancerous and some cancerous cells and to demonstrate for certain that the elevated NTR activity is associated with cancer cells and hypoxia states.