Enzyme/substrate pairs, such as β-galactosidase with chromogenic x-gal substrate, are widely used as reporters to monitor biological events, but there is still a requirement for new reporter systems, which may be orthogonal to existing systems. Here, we focused on azoreductase (AzoR). We designed and synthesized a library of azo-rhodamine derivatives as candidate fluorogenic substrates. These derivatives were nonfluorescent, probably due to ultrafast conformational change around the N=N bond after photoexcitation. We found that AzoR-mediated reduction of the azo bond of derivatives bearing an electron-donating group on the azobenzene moiety was followed by nonenzymatic cleavage to afford highly fluorescent 2-methyl-rhodamine green (2-Me RG), which was well retained in cells. We show that the AzoR/compound 9 reporter system can detect azoreductase-expressing live cells at the single cell level.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine