Fluorogenic probes for bioimaging have become essential tools for life science and medicine, and the key to their development is a precise understanding of the mechanisms available for fluorescence off/on control, such as photoinduced electron transfer (PeT) and Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET). Here we establish a new molecular design strategy to rationally develop activatable fluorescent probes, which exhibit a fluorescence off/on change in response to target biomolecules, by controlling the twisted intramolecular charge transfer (TICT) process. This approach was developed on the basis of a thorough investigation of the fluorescence quenching mechanism of N-phenyl rhodamine dyes (commercially available as the QSY series) by means of time-dependent density functional theory (TD-DFT) calculations and photophysical evaluation of their derivatives. To illustrate and validate this TICT-based design strategy, we employed it to develop practical fluorogenic probes for HaloTag and SNAP-tag. We further show that the TICT-controlled fluorescence off/on mechanism is generalizable by synthesizing a Si-rhodamine-based fluorogenic probe for HaloTag, thus providing a palette of chemical dyes that spans the visible and near-infrared range.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Chemistry
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry