Development of a fluorescent probe library enabling efficient screening of tumour-imaging probes based on discovery of biomarker enzymatic activities

Chem Sci. 2022 Mar 21;13(16):4474-4481. doi: 10.1039/d1sc06889j. eCollection 2022 Apr 20.


Fluorescent probes that can selectively detect tumour lesions have great potential for fluorescence imaging-guided surgery. Here, we established a library-based approach for efficient screening of probes for tumour-selective imaging based on discovery of biomarker enzymes. We constructed a combinatorial fluorescent probe library for aminopeptidases and proteases, which is composed of 380 probes with various substrate moieties. Using this probe library, we performed lysate-based in vitro screening and/or direct imaging-based ex vivo screening of freshly resected clinical specimens from lung or gastric cancer patients, and found promising probes for tumour-selective visualization. Further, we identified two target enzymes as novel biomarker enzymes for discriminating between tumour and non-tumour tissues. This library-based approach is expected to be an efficient tool to develop tumour-imaging probes and to discover new biomarker enzyme activities for various tumours and other diseases.