Design, Synthesis, and Evaluation of Metal Cation Sensors with Donor-Acceptor Architecture
Cody, John W., Jr.
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Copper is an essential trace element present in all living systems and is important for the function of many cellular enzymes. It ranks third in intracellular abundance behind only zinc and iron and plays a very important role as a catalytic cofactor in various cellular processes such as mitochondrial respiration, iron uptake, and the redox processes of a number of enzymes, including superoxide dismutase, lysyl oxidase, or tyrosinase. Any abnormality in copper trafficking pathways can lead to serious diseases such as Wilsons disease, Menkes syndrome and has been implicated in the neurodegenerative diseases amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimers disease. While free copper in the cytoplasm would prove toxic, there is compelling evidence for the existence of a labile pool of copper that remains kinetically accessible. In order to investigate the existence of such a pool the development of Cu(I) selective probes is necessary. Chapter I provides the background for the role of copper in biology and elucidates the main trafficking pathways discovered to date. This chapter also provides recent developments of fluorescent sensors for selective visualization of biologically relevant metals. Chapter II discusses the exploration of a phenanthroline-based ligand for the selective detection of Cu(I). A series of derivatives incorporating chelating substituents in the 2- and 9-positions to enforce a 1:1 binding stoichiometry were synthesized and the properties of their respective Cu(I) complexes were characterized by x-ray structural analysis, and their photophysical properties were investigated by absorption and emission spectroscopy. Visible light excitation yielded metal-to-ligand charge-transfer (MLCT) excited states with luminescence lifetimes up to 155 ns. Electrochemical measurements further indicate that coordinative rearrangements are involved in nonradiative deactivation of the excited states. According to time-dependent density functional theory calculations (B3LYP/6-31G**), the major MLCT transitions are polarized along the C2 axis of the complex and originate predominantly from the dxz orbital. In chapter III, the development of a ratiometric Cu(I) sensor based on a donor-acceptor functionalized biphenyl fluorophore platform is discussed. The fluorescence emission energy for such fluorophores is highly dependent upon the interannular twist angle and this property was harnessed to provide a ratiometric sensor selective for Cu(I). Coordination of Cu(I) leads to a flattening of the biphenyl backbone and was confirmed by absorbance and emission spectroscopy as well as 2D NOESY experiments. The peak emission energy was shifted by 39 nm towards higher energy upon metal cation binding with a concomitant 7 bathochromic shift in absorption energy. The photophysical data accompanied by 1H NMR analysis confirms a well-defined 1:1 binding stoichiometry between metal and ligand. The findings from this study showed ratiometric behavior for this probe, albeit with a lowered quantum yield. While the quantum yield for the fluorophore discussed in chapter III was low (8.0%), the focus of chapter IV was the elucidation of the fluorescence quenching mechanism. To investigate the possibility of a twisted intramolecular charge transfer (TICT) state a donor-acceptor biphenyl fluorophore was synthesized incorporating a conformationally restricted amine donor group incapable of rotating out of plane in the excited state. Analysis of this derivative, as well as the sensor discussed in chapter III, reveals that fluorescence quenching is most likely due to hydrogen bonding to the acceptor subunit in they excited state. Finally, in chapter V, a pyrazoline fluorophore library with varying numbers of fluorine substituents was synthesized. The photophysical and electrochemical properties of these fluorophores were measured in order to determine if careful tuning of the excited state electron transfer thermodynamics is possible. The compounds cover a broad range of excited state energies and reduction potentials, and the data suggest that selective and differential tuning of both the reduction potential of the acceptor as well as the excited state equilibrium energy. These findings show that the individual parameters involved in excited state electron transfer can be tuned by the modular architecture of the pyrazoline fluorophore.