Fluorescent diphenylphosphonate-based probes for detection of serine protease activity during inflammation

Laura E. Edgington-Mitchell, Nicholas Barlow, Luigi Aurelio, Aminath Samha, Monika Szabo, Bim Graham, Nigel Bunnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Activity-based probes are small molecules that covalently bind to the active site of a protease in an activity-dependent manner. We synthesized and characterized two fluorescent activity-based probes that target serine proteases with trypsin-like or elastase-like activity. We assessed the selectivity and potency of these probes against recombinant enzymes and demonstrated that while they are efficacious at labeling active proteases in complex protein mixtures in vitro, they are less valuable for in vivo studies. We used these probes to evaluate serine protease activity in two mouse models of acute inflammation, including pancreatitis and colitis. As anticipated, the activity of trypsin-like proteases was increased during pancreatitis. Levels of elastase-like proteases were low in pancreatic lysates and colonic luminal fluids, whether healthy or inflamed. Exogenously added recombinant neutrophil elastase was inhibited upon incubation with these samples, an effect that was augmented in inflamed samples compared to controls. These data suggest that endogenous inhibitors and elastase-degrading proteases are upregulated during inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-260
Number of pages7
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Activity-based probes
  • Colitis
  • Diphenylphosphonate
  • Elastase
  • Fluorescent probes
  • Inflammation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Protease
  • Protease inhibitors
  • Trypsin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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