Microchimica Acta

, 186:806 | Cite as

A “turn off-on” fluorescent nanoprobe consisting of CuInS2 quantum dots for determination of the activity of β-glucosidase and for inhibitor screening

  • Ziping LiuEmail author
  • Ye Tian
  • Yang Han
  • Edith Bai
  • Yanan Li
  • Zhiwei Xu
  • Shasha Liu
Original Paper


A fluorescent “turn off-on” nanoprobe is described for highly sensitive and selective determination of the activity of the enzyme β-glucosidase (β-Glu). Firstly, cysteine modified CuInS2 quantum dots (Cys-CuInS2 QDs) were prepared from indium(III) and copper(II) salts and the presence of thiourea. The red fluorescence of the Cys-CuInS2 QDs, with excitation/emission maxima at 590/656 nm, is quenched by Cu(II). However, in the presence of β-Glu and the cyanogenic glycoside, enzymatic hydrolysis leads to the formation of cyanide. The latter competitively binds to Cu(II) owing to its high affinity for cyanide. This restores the fluorescence of the Cys-CuInS2 QDs. Under the optimum conditions, fluorescence increases linearly in the 0.5–700 U·L−1 β-Glu activity range. The detection limit is 0.2 U·L−1. The nanoprobe was applied to analyze spiked soil samples, and satisfactory results were obtained. The average recoveries of β-Glu were in the range of 96–103%, and the RSD was lower than 4.0%. The fluorescent probe can also be used to screen for β-Glu inhibitors as demonstrated for castanospermine as an example.

Graphical abstract

Schematic representation of the fluorescent nanoprobe for β-glucosidase activity detection and inhibitor screening by taking advantage of the fluorescence (FL) “turn-off” and “turn-on” feature of cysteine capped CuInS2 quantum dots (Cys-CuInS2 QDs).


Fluorescence Cys-CuInS2 QDs Cyanogenic glycoside Amygdalin Cyanide Castanospermine Enzyme activity Soil Competitively binds Cu(II) 



This work was funded by the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2018 M631850), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Nos. 2412018QD019 and 2412018ZD012), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41301364) and Science and Technology Research Project of Jilin Province (No. JJKH20190283KJ).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2019_3918_MOESM1_ESM.docx (481 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 481 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ziping Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ye Tian
    • 3
  • Yang Han
    • 2
  • Edith Bai
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yanan Li
    • 4
  • Zhiwei Xu
    • 1
  • Shasha Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Geographical Processes and Ecological Security in Changbai Mountains, Ministry of EducationNortheast Normal UniversityChangchunPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Geographical SciencesNortheast Normal UniversityChangchunPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Jilin Province Product Quality Supervision Testing InstituteChangchunPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Key Laboratory for Vegetation Ecology, Ministry of Education, Institute of Grassland ScienceNortheast Normal UniversityJilin ProvinceChina

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