Fe(II) Ion Release during Endocytotic Uptake of Iron Visualized by a Membrane-Anchoring Fe(II) Fluorescent Probe

Masato Niwa, Tasuku Hirayama, Ikumi Oomoto, Dan Ohtan Wang, Hideko Nagasawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Iron is an essential transition metal species for all living organisms and plays various physiologically important roles on the basis of its redox activity; accordingly, the disruption of iron homeostasis triggers oxidative stress and cellular damage. Therefore, cells have developed sophisticated iron-uptake machinery to acquire iron while protecting cells from uncontrolled oxidative damage during the uptake process. To examine the detailed mechanism of iron uptake while controlling the redox status, it is necessary to develop useful methods with redox state selectivity, sensitivity, and organelle specificity to monitor labile iron, which is weakly bound to subcellular ligands. Here, we report the development of Mem-RhoNox to monitor local Fe(II) at the surface of the plasma membrane of living cells. The redox state-selective fluorescence response of the probe relies on our recently developed N-oxide strategy, which is applicable to fluorophores with dialkylarylamine in their π-conjugation systems. Mem-RhoNox consists of the N-oxygenated rhodamine scaffold, which has two arms, both of which are tethered with palmitoyl groups as membrane-anchoring domains. In an aqueous buffer, Ac-RhoNox, a model compound of Mem-RhoNox, shows a fluorescence turn-on response to the Fe(II) redox state-selectively. An imaging study with Mem-RhoNox and its derivatives reveals that labile Fe(II) is transiently generated during the major iron-uptake pathways: endocytotic uptake and direct transport. Furthermore, Mem-RhoNox is capable of monitoring endosomal Fe(II) in primary cultured neurons during endocytotic uptake. This report is the first example that identifies the generation of Fe(II) over the course of cellular iron-uptake processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1853-1861
Number of pages9
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 20 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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