Green Fluorescent Protein GFP-Chromophore-Based Probe for the Detection of Mitochondrial Viscosity in Living Cells

Lei Cai, Huan Li, Xiang Yu, Luling Wu, Xiaoqin Wei, Tony D. James, Chusen Huang

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Viscosity is a pivotal factor for indicating the dysfunction of the mitochondria. To date, most of the fluorescent probes developed for mitochondrial viscosity have been designed using BODIPY, hemicyanine, or pyridine-based molecular rotors as part of the core structure. Our aim with this research was to extend the range of suitable fluorophores available for the construction of such fluorescent molecular rotors for evaluating the viscosity of mitocondria. Herein, we have developed a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-chromophore-based fluorescent probe (MIT-V) for the detection of mitochondrial viscosity in live cells. MIT-V exhibited a high sensitivity toward viscosity (from 7.9 cP to 438.4 cP). The "off-on"sensing mechanism of MIT-V was ascribed to the restricted rotation of single bonds and excited-state C= C double bonds of MIT-V. Cell studies indicated that MIT-V targets the mitochondria and that it was able to monitor real-time changes in the viscosity of live HeLa cell mitochondria. Therefore, we propose that MIT-V can be used as an effective chemosensor for the real-time imaging of mitochondrial viscosity in live cells. Our results clearly demonstrate the utility of such GFP-chromophore-based derivatives for the development of viscosity-sensitive systems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Applied Bio Materials
Early online date14 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jan 2021


  • fluorescent probe
  • GFP-chromophore
  • live cell imaging
  • mitochondria
  • viscosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biochemistry, medical

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