Professor Sun Hongzhe and His Team Develops Novel Fluorescent Probe for Monitoring Cell Activities

April 1, 2015

After three‐year of efforts, Professor Sun Hongzhe of the Department of Chemistry and his team of researchers, together with his collaborators in the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Medicine, is the first to develop the novel fluorescent probe that can rapidly trace the tens of thousands of tagged proteins inside cells.

The new fluorescent probe provides quick labeling of tagged protein inside cells (in min) for observing the precise localisation of proteins for studying their functions in all types of cells, from bacterial cell to mammalian cells and even to highly complex plant tissues. The new fluorescent probe provides an inexpensive and effective tool for real‐time monitoring of cell activities. It may be used to visualise the invasion events of pathogenic microbes and to analyse the actions of drug on its target, to assess the effectiveness of target drugs on cancer cells, and to trace and understand drug resistance in bacteria etc.. It will facilitate drug screening for future drug discovery, in particular the development of more effective target drugs. The fluorescent probe may also be applied to agricultural advancements in developing plant species with favorable genetic variations.

Furthermore, researchers in the group have also developed probes with different colors to enable the observation of the precise localization of multiple proteins within the same cells simultaneously, which is critical to understand how proteins interact with one another. These probes can be readily applied to visualize the actions of drugs on their targets in cells in facilitating drug screening for future drug discovery. Such biotechnology will have a significant impact on our understanding of the proteome – the next frontier after the genome.

Abstract of the paper "Rapid Labeling of Intracellular His‐tagged Proteins in Living Cells":  

Professor Sun Hongzhe’s research team and his collaborators of HKU (from the left): Dr. Julian A. Tanner (Dept of Biochemistry), Prof. Mee‐Len Chye (Wilson and Amelia Wong Professor in Plant Biotechnology, School of Biological Sciences), Prof. Hongzhe Sun and his research group members: Dr. Hongyan Li, Miss Ya Yang, Dr. Yau‐Tsz Lai, Miss Yuen‐Yan Chang, Miss Ailun Chao (all from Dept of Chemistry)

Professor Sun Hongzhe

(From the left) Dr. Yau‐Tsz Lai and Miss Yuen‐Yan Chang