ortho-Chlorination of phenoxy 1,2-dioxetane yields superior chemiluminescent probes for in vitro and in vivo imaging

Org Biomol Chem. 2018 Mar 7;16(10):1708-1712. doi: 10.1039/c8ob00087e.


A recent methodology, developed by our group, has enabled a dramatic improvement in the emissive nature of the excited species, formed during the chemiexcitation of dioxetanes under physiological conditions. This approach has resulted in the discovery of distinct phenoxy-dioxetane luminophores that produce a chemiluminescence signal via a direct-mode of emission. Here, we show a significant pKa effect of our new phenoxy-dioxetanes on their chemiexcitation and on their ability to serve as chemiluminescent turn-ON probes for biological applications. Using an appropriate phenoxy-dioxetane probe with a direct-mode of emission, we were able to image β-galactosidase activity, in cancer cells and in tumor-bearing mice. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first example to demonstrate in vitro and in vivo endogenous enzymatic chemiluminescence images obtained by a single-component phenoxy-dioxetane probe. We anticipate that our strategy, for the design and synthesis of such distinct luminophores, will assist in providing new effective turn-ON probes for non-invasive intravital chemiluminescence imaging techniques.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Halogenation
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / chemical synthesis
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / chemistry*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 1-Ring
  • Humans
  • Luminescence
  • Luminescent Agents / chemical synthesis
  • Luminescent Agents / chemistry*
  • Luminescent Measurements / methods*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Optical Imaging / methods*
  • beta-Galactosidase / analysis*


  • Heterocyclic Compounds
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 1-Ring
  • Luminescent Agents
  • 1,2-dioxetane
  • beta-Galactosidase