Low molecular weight, uncharged far-red and NIR dyes would be enabling for a range of imaging applications. Rational redesign of the coumarin scaffold leads to Fluoro-Coumarins (FCs), the lowest molecular weight dyes with emission maxima beyond 700, 800, and 900 nm. FCs display large Stokes shifts and high environmental sensitivity, with a 40-fold increase in emission intensity in hydrophobic solvents. Untargeted variants exhibit selective lipid droplet and nuclear staining in live cells. Furthermore, sulfo-lipid derivatization enables active targeting to the plasma membrane. Overall, these studies report a promising platform for the development of biocompatible, context-responsive imaging agents.
See: Core remodeling leads to long wavelength fluoro-coumarins by Siddharth S. Matikonda, Joseph Ivanic, Miguel Gomez, Gabrielle Hammersley and Martin J. Schnermann in Chemical Science, 2020, 11, 7302-7307.