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A novel peptide-based fluorescent probe for highly selective detection of mercury (II) ions in real water samples and living cells based on aggregation-induced emission effect

Abstract

A new fluorescent probe TPE-GHK was synthesized containing a tetrastyrene (TPE) derivative as fluorophore and classical tripeptide (Gly-His-Lys-NH2) as a receptor based on the aggregation-induced emission (AIE) mechanism. TPE-GHK displayed high selectivity and rapid fluorescent “turn-on” response to Hg2+ among other competitive metal ions. The 2:1 complex binding mechanism of TPE-GHK toward Hg2+ was verified by fluorometric titration, Job’s plots, and ESI-HRMS spectra. The fluorescent emission showed a good linear response in the range of 0–1.0 μM with the low detection limit of 28.6 nM. Meanwhile, TPE-GHK exhibited the excellent biocompatibility and low toxicity and was successfully applied in monitoring Hg2+ in living CAKI 2 cells, which demonstrated its potential application in environment and biological science. More importantly, TPE-GHK could be used to detect Hg2+ in two real water samples and also was successfully designed as test strips.

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Funding

This work was supported by the Application Foundation Project of Science and Technology Department of Sichuan Province (No. 2021YJ0409, 2021YJ0323), the Opening Project of Key Laboratories of Fine Chemicals and Surfactants in Sichuan Provincial Universities (No. 2021JXY02), and the Fundamental Research Funds of China West Normal University (No. CXTD2020-1).

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Correspondence to Peng Wang or Fang Liao.

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Wang, P., Xue, S., Chen, B. et al. A novel peptide-based fluorescent probe for highly selective detection of mercury (II) ions in real water samples and living cells based on aggregation-induced emission effect. Anal Bioanal Chem 414, 4717–4726 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-022-04094-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-022-04094-4

Keywords

  • Tripeptide
  • Fluorescent probe
  • Hg(II) ions
  • Aqueous solutions
  • Cells imaging