"Turn-on" fluorescent aptasensor based on AIEgen labeling for the localization of IFN-γ in live cells

Ke Ma, Fengli Zhang, Nima Sayyadi, Wenjie Chen, Ayad G. Anwer, Andrew Care, Bin Xu, Wenjing Tian, Ewa M. Goldys, Guozhen Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


We report an aggregation-induced emission fluorogen (AIEgen)-based turn-on fluorescent aptasensor able to detect the ultrasmall concentration of intracellular IFN-γ. The aptasensor consists of an IFN-γ aptamer labeled with a fluorogen with a typical aggregation-induced emission (AIE) characteristic, which shows strong red emission only in the presence of IFN-γ. The aptasensor is able to effectively monitor intracellular IFN-γ secretion with the lowest detection limit of 2 pg mL⁻¹, and it is capable of localizing IFN-γ in live cells during secretion, with excellent cellular permeability and biocompatibility as well as low cytotoxicity. This probe is able to localize the intracellular IFN-γ at a low concentration <10 pg mL⁻¹, and it is successfully used for real-time bioimaging. This simple and highly sensitive sensor may enable the exploration of cytokine pathways and their dynamic secretion process in the cellular environment. It provides a universal sensing platform for monitoring a spectrum of molecules secreted by cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320–326
Number of pages7
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number2
Early online date8 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • IFN-γ detection
  • AIE fluorogens
  • aptasensor
  • bioimaging
  • turn-on fluorescence


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