Gold(III) Complexes Containing N-Heterocyclic Carbene Ligands: Thiol “Switch-on” Fluorescent Probes and Anti-Cancer Agents

Authors

  • Taotao Zou,

    1. Department of Chemistry, State Key Laboratory of Synthetic Chemistry, Institute of Molecular Functional Materials and Open Laboratory of Chemical Biology of the Institute of Molecular Technology for Drug Discovery and Synthesis, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong (China)
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  • Dr. Ching Tung Lum,

    1. Department of Chemistry, State Key Laboratory of Synthetic Chemistry, Institute of Molecular Functional Materials and Open Laboratory of Chemical Biology of the Institute of Molecular Technology for Drug Discovery and Synthesis, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong (China)
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  • Dr. Stephen Sin-Yin Chui,

    1. Department of Chemistry, State Key Laboratory of Synthetic Chemistry, Institute of Molecular Functional Materials and Open Laboratory of Chemical Biology of the Institute of Molecular Technology for Drug Discovery and Synthesis, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong (China)
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  • Prof. Dr. Chi-Ming Che

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemistry, State Key Laboratory of Synthetic Chemistry, Institute of Molecular Functional Materials and Open Laboratory of Chemical Biology of the Institute of Molecular Technology for Drug Discovery and Synthesis, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong (China)
    • Department of Chemistry, State Key Laboratory of Synthetic Chemistry, Institute of Molecular Functional Materials and Open Laboratory of Chemical Biology of the Institute of Molecular Technology for Drug Discovery and Synthesis, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong (China)
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  • This work was supported by The Innovation and Technology Commission (ITF-Tier 2 Project, ITS/134/09FP) and the University Grants Committee (Area of Excellence Scheme AoE/P-03/08) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China. We thank Dr. Raymond Wai-Yin Sun for helpful discussion and Dr. Chun-Nam Lok for help in designing the bio-experiments.

Abstract

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Illuminating results: Activation of non-emissive [AuIII(N N N)(NHC)]+ complexes (such as 1) through reduction by intracellular glutathione gives active AuI–NHC complexes, which show promising anti-cancer properties, accompanied by release of the highly fluorescent ligand. The high fluorescence “switch-on” efficiency makes these AuIII complexes excellent probes for cellular thiol detection.

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