Utilization of Rhenium(I) Polypyridine Complexes Featuring a Dinitrophenylsulfonamide Moiety as Biothiol-Selective Phosphorogenic Bioimaging Reagents and Photocytotoxic Agents

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3432-3442
Journal / PublicationEuropean Journal of Inorganic Chemistry
Issue number34
Online published15 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2021


We report herein a series of rhenium(I) polypyridine complexes featuring a 2,4-dinitrophenylsulfonamide (DNPS) unit as phosphorogenic bioimaging reagents and photocytotoxic agents. The biothiol-selective rhenium(I) polypyridine complexes [Re(N^N)(CO)3(py-DNPS)](CF3SO3) (py-DNPS=3-((2,4-dinitrophenylsulfonyl)aminomethyl)pyridine) and their DNPS-free counterparts [Re(N^N)(CO)3(pyridine)](CF3SO3) were synthesized and characterized. Upon photoexcitation, the DNPS complexes exhibited very weak luminescence as a result of photoinduced electron transfer (PET) from the excited rhenium(I) diimine moiety to the DNPS quenching unit. However, upon treatment with glutathione (GSH), the DNPS moiety was removed, resulting in emission enhancement of the solutions (I/Io=12.6–22.2). After reaction of the DNPS complexes with GSH in living cells, intense intracellular emission and potent photocytotoxicity were both observed. Additionally, the modification of the diimine ligand with a tosylamide unit conferred on the complexes an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-targeting ability, which can be exploited for selective bioimaging and photocytotoxic applications.

Research Area(s)

  • Bioimaging probes, Cytotoxicity, Dinitrophenylsulfonamide, Endoplasmic reticulum, Glutathione, Rhenium

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