Mediated Electrochemical Probing: A Systems-Level Tool for Redox Biology

ACS Chem Biol. 2021 Jul 16;16(7):1099-1110. doi: 10.1021/acschembio.1c00267. Epub 2021 Jun 22.


Biology uses well-known redox mechanisms for energy harvesting (e.g., respiration), biosynthesis, and immune defense (e.g., oxidative burst), and now we know biology uses redox for systems-level communication. Currently, we have limited abilities to "eavesdrop" on this redox modality, which can be contrasted with our abilities to observe and actuate biology through its more familiar ionic electrical modality. In this Perspective, we argue that the coupling of electrochemistry with diffusible mediators (electron shuttles) provides a unique opportunity to access the redox communication modality through its electrical features. We highlight previous studies showing that mediated electrochemical probing (MEP) can "communicate" with biology to acquire information and even to actuate specific biological responses (i.e., targeted gene expression). We suggest that MEP may reveal an extent of redox-based communication that has remained underappreciated in nature and that MEP could provide new technological approaches for redox biology, bioelectronics, clinical care, and environmental sciences.

Publication types

  • News
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biology / methods*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / chemistry
  • Electrochemistry* / methods
  • Oxidants / chemistry
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Reducing Agents / chemistry


  • Biomarkers
  • Oxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Reducing Agents