Bioconjugatable porphyrins bearing a compact swallowtail motif for water solubility

K. Eszter Borbas, Pawel Mroz, Michael R. Hamblin, Jonathan S. Lindsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


A broad range of applications requires access to water-soluble, bioconjugatable porphyrins. Branched alkyl groups attached at the branching site to the porphyrin meso position are known to impart high organic solubility. Such "swallowtail" motifs bearing a polar group (hydroxy, dihydroxyphosphoryl, dihydroxyphosphoryloxy) at the terminus of each branch have now been incorporated at a meso site in trans-AB-porphyrins. The incorporation of the swallowtail motif relies on rational synthetic methods whereby a 1,9-bis(N-propylimino)dipyrromethane (bearing a bioconjugatable tether at the 5-position) is condensed with a dipyrromethane (bearing a protected 1,5-dihydroxypent-3-yl unit at the 5-position). The two hydroxy groups in the swallowtail motif of each of the resulting zinc porphyrins can be transformed to the corresponding diphosphate or diphosphonate product. A 4-(carboxymethyloxy) phenyl group provides the bioconjugatable tether. The six such porphyrins reported here are highly water-soluble (≥20 mM at room temperature in water at pH 7) as determined by visual inspection, UV-vis absorption spectroscopy, or 1H NMR spectroscopy. Covalent attachment was carried out in aqueous solution with the unprotected porphyrin diphosphonate and a monoclonal antibody against the T-cell receptor CD3ε. The resulting conjugate performed comparably to a commercially available fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled antibody with Jurkat cells in flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy assays. Taken together, this work enables preparation of useful quantities of water-soluble, bioconjugatable porphyrins in a compact architecture for applications in the life sciences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-653
Number of pages16
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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