Metals are essential for sustaining all forms of life, but alterations in their cellular homeostasis are connected to severe human disorders, including cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Fluorescent small molecules that respond to metal ions in the cell with appropriate selectivity and sensitivity offer the ability to probe physiological and pathological consequences of the cell biology of metals with spatial and temporal fidelity. Molecular imaging of normal and abnormal cellular metal ion pools using these new chemical tools provides a host of emerging opportunities for visualizing, in real time, aspects of metal accumulation, trafficking, and function or toxicity in living systems. This review presents a brief survey of available synthetic small-molecule sensor types for fluorescence detection of cellular metals.
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We thank the University of California, Berkeley, the Dreyfus Foundation, the Beckman Foundation, the American Federation for Aging Research, the Packard Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, the US National Science Foundation (CAREER CHE-0548245) and the US National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIH GM 79465) for funding our laboratory's work on metal sensors. D.W.D. thanks the Chemical Biology Graduate Program sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health (T32 GM066698) for support, and E.L.Q. acknowledges a Branch graduate fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley.
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Domaille, D., Que, E. & Chang, C. Synthetic fluorescent sensors for studying the cell biology of metals. Nat Chem Biol 4, 168–175 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.69
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