Oxidation state-specific fluorescent copper sensors reveal oncogene-driven redox changes that regulate labile copper(II) pools

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School of Dental Medicine::Departmental Papers (Dental)
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activity-based sensing; fluorescent copper probe; oxidative stress; transition metal signaling; cancer metabolism
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Aidan T. Pezacki; Carson D. Matier; Xingxing Gu; Eric Kummelstedt; Sarah E. Bond; Kelly L. Jordan-Sciutto; Gina M. DeNicola; Timothy A. Su; Donita C. Brady; Christopher J. Chang

Copper is an essential metal nutrient for life that often relies on redox cycling between Cu(I) and Cu(II) oxidation states to fulfill its physiological roles, but alterations in cellular redox status can lead to imbalances in copper homeostasis that contribute to cancer and other metalloplasias with metal-dependent disease vulnerabilities. Copper-responsive fluorescent probes offer powerful tools to study labile copper pools, but most of these reagents target Cu(I), with limited methods for monitoring Cu(II) owing to its potent fluorescence quenching properties. Here, we report an activity-based sensing strategy for turn-on, oxidation state-specific detection of Cu(II) through metal-directed acyl imidazole chemistry. Cu(II) binding to a metal and oxidation state-specific receptor that accommodates the harder Lewis acidity of Cu(II) relative to Cu(I) activates the pendant dye for reaction with proximal biological nucleophiles and concomitant metal ion release, thus avoiding fluorescence quenching. Copper-directed acyl imidazole 649 for Cu(II) (CD649.2) provides foundational information on the existence and regulation of labile Cu(II) pools, including identifying divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1) as a Cu(II) importer, labile Cu(II) increases in response to oxidative stress induced by depleting total glutathione levels, and reciprocal increases in labile Cu(II) accompanied by decreases in labile Cu(I) induced by oncogenic mutations that promote oxidative stress.

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PNAS Chemistry
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