A switch-on NIR probe for specific detection of Hg2+ ion in aqueous medium and in mitochondria

Hridesh Agarwalla, Pankaj S. Mahajan, Debashis Sahu, Nandaraj Taye, Bishwajit Ganguly, Santosh B. Mhaske, Samit Chattopadhyay, Amitava Das

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45 Citations (Scopus)


A new 4,4-difluoro-4-bora-3a,4a-diaza-s-indacene (BODIPY)-based probe molecule (L) is synthesized for specific binding to Hg2+ ion in physiological condition with an associated luminescence ON response in the near-IR region of the spectrum. Appropriate functionalization in the 5-position of each of two pyrrole moieties with styryl functionality in a BODIPY core helped us in achieving the extended conjugation and a facile intramolecular charge transfer transition with a narrow energy gap for frontier orbitals. This accounted for a poor emission quantum yield for the probe molecule L. Binding to Hg2+ helped in interrupting the facile intramolecular charge transfer (ICT) process that was initially operational for L. This resulted in a hypsochromic shift of absorption band and a turn-on luminescence response with λMaxEms of 650 nm on specific binding to Hg2+. Observed spectral changes are rationalized based on quantum chemical calculations. Interestingly, this reagent is found to be localized preferentially in the mitochondria of the live human colon cancer (Hct116) cells. Mitochondria is one of the major targets for localization of Hg2+, which actually decreases the mitochondrial membrane potential and modifies various proteins having sulfudryl functionality(ies) to cause cell apoptosis. Considering these, ability of the present reagent to specifically recognize Hg2+ in the mitochondrial region of the live Hct116 cells has significance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12052-12060
Number of pages9
JournalInorganic chemistry
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 21 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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