Cyanines are indispensable fluorophores that form the chemical basis of many fluorescence-based applications. A feature that distinguishes cyanines from other common fluorophores is an exposed polyene linker that is both crucial to absorption and emission and subject to covalent reactions that dramatically alter these optical properties. Over the past decade, reactions involving the cyanine polyene have been used as foundational elements for a range of biomedical techniques. These include the optical sensing of biological analytes, super-resolution imaging, and near-IR light-initiated uncaging. This review surveys the chemical reactivity of the cyanine polyene and the biomedical methods enabled by these reactions. The overarching goal is to highlight the multifaceted nature of cyanine chemistry and biology, as well as to point out the key role of reactivity-based insights in this promising area.
See: Cyanine polyene reactivity: scope and biomedical applications by Alexander P. Gorka, Roger R. Nani and Martin J. Schnermann in Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, 2015, 13, 7584-7598.