Development of practical red fluorescent probe for cytoplasmic calcium ions with greatly improved cell-membrane permeability

Cell Calcium. 2016 Oct;60(4):256-65. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2016.06.002. Epub 2016 Jun 8.


Fluorescence imaging of calcium ions (Ca(2+)) has become an essential technique for investigation of signaling pathways involving Ca(2+) as a second messenger. But, Ca(2+) signaling is involved in many biological phenomena, and therefore simultaneous visualization of Ca(2+) and other biomolecules (multicolor imaging) would be particularly informative. For this purpose, we set out to develop a fluorescent probe for Ca(2+) that would operate in a different color region (red) from that of probes for other molecules, many of which show green fluorescence, as exemplified by green fluorescent protein (GFP). We previously developed a red fluorescent probe for monitoring cytoplasmic Ca(2+) concentration, based on our established red fluorophore, TokyoMagenta (TM), but there remained room for improvement, especially as regards efficiency of introduction into cells. We considered that this issue was probably mainly due to limited water solubility of the probe. So, we designed and synthesized a red-fluorescent probe with improved water solubility. We confirmed that this Ca(2+) red-fluorescent probe showed high cell-membrane permeability with bright fluorescence. It was successfully applied to fluorescence imaging of not only live cells, but also brain slices, and should be practically useful for multicolor imaging studies of biological mechanisms.

Keywords: Calcium; Fluorescence; Imaging; Small molecule; Spectroscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / chemistry*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane Permeability*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ions / chemistry
  • Ions / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Molecular Structure
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Ions
  • Calcium