Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 411, Issue 4, pp 935–942 | Cite as

Highly sensitive fluorescent probe based on a novel phenothiazine dye for detection of thiophenols in real water samples and living cells

  • Peng Hou
  • Jing Wang
  • Shuang Fu
  • Lei Liu
  • Song ChenEmail author
Research Paper


Based on an excited-state intramolecular proton transfer (ESIPT) fluorophore, a novel fluorescent off-on probe for detection of thiophenols was designed and synthesized. This probe (λex = 401 nm, λem = 527 nm) displayed high specificity for sensing thiophenols over other biologically related species. Besides, this probe possessed capabilities of monitoring thiophenols with rapid response rate (3 min), a large Stokes shift (126 nm), and high sensitivity (2.7 nM). The sensing mechanism was considered to be that thiophenols triggered thiolysis of the probe and the ESIPT fluorophore was released, as confirmed by means of HPLC and HRMS. Most notably, this probe was successfully applied to monitor levels of thiophenols in realistic samples and MDA-MB-231 cells.

Graphical abstract

A novel phenothiazine-based fluorescent probe was developed for sensitively sensing thiophenols in both aqueous medium and living cells.


Large stokes shift Thiophenol Probe MDA-MB-231 cells 


Funding information

The research was supported by University Nursing Program for Young Scholars with Creative Talents in Heilongjiang Province (No. UNPYSCT-2017167), China.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2018_1525_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (788 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 787 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peng Hou
    • 1
  • Jing Wang
    • 1
  • Shuang Fu
    • 1
  • Lei Liu
    • 1
  • Song Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of PharmacyQiqihar Medical UniversityQiqiharChina

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