Toolbox of Fluorescent Probes for Parallel Imaging Reveals Uneven Location of Serine Proteases in Neutrophils

J Am Chem Soc. 2017 Jul 26;139(29):10115-10125. doi: 10.1021/jacs.7b04394. Epub 2017 Jul 18.


Neutrophils, the front line defenders against infection, express four serine proteases (NSPs) that play roles in the control of cell-signaling pathways and defense against pathogens and whose imbalance leads to pathological conditions. Dissecting the roles of individual NSPs in humans is problematic because neutrophils are end-stage cells with a short half-life and minimal ongoing protein synthesis. To gain insight into the regulation of NSP activity we have generated a small-molecule chemical toolbox consisting of activity-based probes with different fluorophore-detecting groups with minimal wavelength overlap and highly selective natural and unnatural amino acid recognition sequences. The key feature of these activity-based probes is the ability to use them for simultaneous observation and detection of all four individual NSPs by fluorescence microscopy, a feature never achieved in previous studies. Using these probes we demonstrate uneven distribution of NSPs in neutrophil azurophil granules, such that they seem to be mutually excluded from each other, suggesting the existence of unknown granule-targeting mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Neutrophils / enzymology*
  • Optical Imaging*
  • Serine Proteases / analysis*
  • Serine Proteases / metabolism*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Serine Proteases