College of Chemistry, Berkeley

ChemiCAL Science and Engineering

Making Sense Of Peroxide:
Sensor for Hydrogen peroxide will aid study of its 'good cop, bad cop' roles in biology

From C&E News: November 16, 2004

Peroxide strips the colorless sensor's borate proctecting groups, yielding fluorescein.


A new selective, cell-permeable optical probe for hydrogen peroxide promises to shed light on this reactive oxygen species’ dueling pathological and physiological roles.

Oxidative damage caused by H2O2 has been linked to cancer, cardiovascular disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases. Also, it’s been revealed that this potentially dangerous species plays an important cellular role as a signaling molecule (C&EN, May 26, 2003, page 36). University of California, Berkeley, assistant chemistry professor
Christopher J. Chang says his team’s H2O2-specific sensor molecule will be useful for studying the interplay of peroxide’s pathological and physiological roles in living cells [J. Am. Chem. Soc., 126, 15392 (2004)].

The new probe doesn’t suffer any of the limitations of currently available H2O2-responsive probes, including cross-reactivity with other reactive oxygen species, the need for enzymatic activation, or poor water solubility. Among biological reactive oxygen species, only H2O2 hydrolyzes the boronate protecting groups on Chang’s water-soluble, colorless sensor, converting it into visible-light-emitting fluorescein. The H2O2-specific sensor has a detection range that spans the peroxide concentrations thought to be used in cell signaling. Having demonstrated that the sensor can be used to detect H2O2 in living mammalian cells, Chang now plans to use it to study peroxide-mediated signaling and oxidative damage.

Related sites:

Chris Chang research site

Chemical & Engineering News