Rational design and synthesis of a novel BODIPY-based probe for selective imaging of tau tangles in human iPSC-derived cortical neurons
Alessandro Soloperto, Deborah Quaglio, Paola Baiocco, Isabella Romeo, Mattia Mori, Matteo Ardini, Caterina Presutti, Ida Sannino, Silvia Ghirga, Antonia Iazzetti, Rodolfo Ippoliti, Giancarlo Ruocco, Bruno Botta, Francesca Ghirga, Silvia Di Angelantonio & Alberto Boffi
Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between the number of neurofibrillary tangles of the tau protein and Alzheimer's disease progression, making the quantitative detection of tau very promising from a clinical point of view. However, the lack of highly reliable fluorescent probes for selective imaging of tau neurofibrillary tangles is a major challenge due to sharing similar β–sheet motifs with homologous Amyloid-β fibrils. In the current work, we describe the rational design and the in silico evaluation of a small-size focused library of fluorescent probes, consisting of a BODIPY core (electron acceptor) featuring highly conjugated systems (electron donor) with a length in the range 13–19 Å at C3. Among the most promising probes in terms of binding mode, theoretical affinity and polarity, BT1 has been synthesized and tested in vitro onto human induced pluripotent stem cells derived neuronal cell cultures. The probe showed excellent photophysical properties and high selectivity allowing in vitro imaging of hyperphosphorylated tau protein filaments with minimal background noise. Our findings offer new insight into the structure-activity relationship of this class of tau selective fluorophores, paving the way for boosting tau tangle detection in patients possibly through retinal spectral scans.
Alzheimer's disease, Amyloid-Beta, BODIPY