American Chemical Society
se1c00191_si_001.pdf (3.81 MB)

Spatio-Temporal Autophagy Tracking with a Cell-Permeable, Water-Soluble, Peptide-Based, Autophagic Vesicle-Targeted Sensor

Download (3.81 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2021-06-11, 17:40 authored by Sayani Das, Akshay Kapadia, Suranjana Pal, Ankona Datta
Autophagy is an essential cellular degradation process. Impaired autophagy has been linked to multiple disorders, including cancer and neurodegeneration. Tracking the autophagic flux in living cells will provide mechanistic insights into autophagy and will allow rapid screening of autophagy modulators as potential therapeutics. Imaging autophagy to track the autophagic flux demands a cell-permeable probe that can specifically target autophagic vesicles and report on the extent of autophagy. Existing fluorescent protein-based probes for imaging autophagy target autophagic vesicles but are cell-impermeable and degrade with the progress of autophagy resulting in ambiguous information on the later stages of autophagy. Although small-molecule-based autophagy probes can be cell-permeable, they are mostly water-insoluble and often target lysosomes instead of autophagic vesicles leading to incomplete evidence of the early stages of the process. Hence, there is a major gap in the ability to link the imaging data obtained by applying fluorescent sensors to the real extent of autophagy in living cells. To address these challenges, we have combined the desirable features of targetability and cell permeability to develop a novel water-soluble, cell-permeable, visible-light excitable, peptide-based, fluorescent sensor, HCFP, for imaging autophagy and tracking the autophagic flux. The probe readily enters living cells within 30 min of incubation, distinctly targets autophagic vesicles, and spatio-temporally tracks the entire autophagy pathway in living cells via a ratiometric pH-sensitive detection scheme. The salient features of the probe combining targetability with cell permeability should provide an edge in high-throughput screening of autophagy modulators by tracking autophagy live.