Mr. Eric Y. Yu


Bacterial infections and the rise of antibiotic-resistance pose significant threats to public health, and a profound change is in need to keep the situation from worsening.1-2 Here, we report two multifunctional light-up probes (TPEPy-Ala and TPAPy-Kdo) based on aggregation-induced emission luminogens (AIEgens) for specific bacterial imaging and elimination by labeling the bacterial envelope by metabolic pathway. Compared to the conventional bacterial metabolic labeling, which requires a two-step process of pre-treatment with the appropriate metabolic precursor and a ligand reaction, TPEPy-Ala and TPAPy-Kdo conjugated with metabolic moiety could be directly used for bacterial labeling in one step.3-7 Furthermore, the metabolic probes could in situ generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) upon light irradiation to eliminate S. aureus and E. coli effectively. As the metabolic moieties are highly specific to the bacterial cell envelopes, TPEPy-Ala and TPAPy-Kdo were utilized to locate and discriminate bacteria that survived within the macrophages. Subsequently, the intracellular bacteria were eliminated after light irradiation with minimal cytotoxicity to the host. 

Scheme 1. Schematic illustration of discrimination and killing of intracellular Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria using metabolic AIE photosensitizers. 


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  2. Levy, S. B.; Marshall, B. Nature Medicine 2004, 10, S122-S129.
  3. Dumont, A.; Malleron, A.; Awwad, M.; Dukan, S.; Vauzeilles, B. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 3143-3146.
  4. Shieh, P.; Siegrist, M. S.; Cullen, A. J.; Bertozzi, C. R. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2014, 111, 5456.
  5. Nilsson, I.; Grove, K.; Dovala, D.; Uehara, T.; Lapointe, G.; Six, D. A. J. Biol. Chem. 2017, 292, 19840-19848.
  6. Kuru, E.; Hughes, H. V.; Brown, P. J.; Hall, E.; Tekkam, S.; Cava, F.; de Pedro, M. A.; Brun, Y. V.; VanNieuwenhze, M. S. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 12519-12523.
  7. Wu, M.; Qi, G.; Liu, X.; Duan, Y.; Liu, J.; Liu, B. Chem. Mater. 2020, 32, 858-865.

University: HKUST

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