Date: 03 Nov 2012

Imaging and Sensing of Cadmium in Cells

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Abstract

Cadmium is one of the highly toxic transition metals for human beings and is known as a human carcinogen. Once humans are exposed to Cd2+ on a chronic basis, Cd2+ primarily accumulates in the liver and kidney where it forms complexes with small peptides and proteins via sulfhydryl groups. Complexed Cd2+ or the ionic Cd2+ is then taken up by target cells and tissues and exerts the toxicity. However, the question of how non-essential Cd2+ crosses the cell membranes remains unanswered. Furthermore, the molecular mechanism of Cd2+-induced physiological signaling disruption in cells is still not fully elucidated. Investigations of Cd2+ uptake kinetics, distributions, and concentrations in cells require chemical tools for its detection. Because of the easy use and high spatiotemporal resolution, optical imaging using fluorescence microscopy is a well-suited method for monitoring Cd2+ in biological samples. This chapter summarizes design principles of small molecule fluorescent sensors for Cd2+ detection in aqueous solution and their photophysical and metal-binding properties. Also the applications of probes for fluorescence imaging of Cd2+ in a variety of cell types are demonstrated.