Project title: The development of novel fluorescent probes for the imaging of mobile zinc in biology
Zinc is the second most abundant trace element in humans and its homeostasis is regulated by more than 20 transporter proteins. Whilst the majority of zinc is in a fixed form there exists a mobile pool of “free” zinc; mis-regulation of this mobile pool of zinc is associated with a number of important disease states including certain cancers and type two diabetes mellitus. There is therefore considerable interest in developing a deep understanding of the role that zinc plays in these, and other, diseases. Due to its “spectroscopically silent” nature, most efforts have focussed on the development of small molecule fluorescent probes for the detection of zinc. In this project a range of novel probes will be developed which encompass cell-targeted capability together with photo-switchable properties to enable real-time imaging of zinc in specific cellular organelles in response to biological stimuli.