A new highly selective fluorescent K+ sensor

J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Nov 23;133(46):18530-3. doi: 10.1021/ja207345s. Epub 2011 Oct 27.


We describe the synthesis, properties, and application of a new fluorescent potassium chemosensor, KS2, for K(+) sensing and imaging in live cells. By virtue of a strong electron-withdrawing group, 2-dicyanomethylene-3-cyano-4,5,5-trimethyl-2,5-dihydrofuran (TCF), with a triazacryptand ligand, the new sensor can respond to K(+) up to 1.6 M. This is the first highly selective intracellular sensor suitable for sensing K(+) over a broad and high concentration range. Confocal fluorescence microscopy has established the utility of KS2 for live-cell K(+) detection. The application of KS2 combined with other sensors will be of great benefit for investigating cellular metabolism, detecting and diagnosing diseases including cancer, and monitoring responses to therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemical synthesis*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Potassium / analysis*
  • Potassium / chemistry


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Potassium