Improved Photoinduced Fluorogenic Alkene-Tetrazole Reaction for Protein Labeling

Xin Shang, Rui Lai, Xi Song, Hui Li, Wei Niu, Jiantao Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


The 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction between an alkene and a tetrazole represents one elegant and rare example of fluorophore-forming bioorthogonal chemistry. This is an attractive reaction for imaging applications in live cells that requires less intensive washing steps and/or needs spatiotemporal resolutions. In the present work, as an effort to improve the fluorogenic property of the alkene-tetrazole reaction, an aromatic alkene (styrene) was investigated as the dipolarophile. Over 30-fold improvement in quantum yield of the reaction product was achieved in aqueous solution. According to our mechanistic studies, the observed improvement is likely due to an insufficient protonation of the styrene-tetrazole reaction product. This finding provides useful guidance to the future design of alkene-tetrazole reactions for biological studies. Fluorogenic protein labeling using the styrene-tetrazole reaction was demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo. This was realized by the genetic incorporation of an unnatural amino acid containing the styrene moiety. It is anticipated that the combination of styrene with different tetrazole derivatives can generally improve and broaden the application of alkene-tetrazole chemistry in real-time imaging in live cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2859-2864
Number of pages6
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 15 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry

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