Controllable Self-Assembly of Peptide-Cyanine Conjugates In Vivo as Fine-Tunable Theranostics

Rui Zheng, Jia Yang, Muhetaerjiang Mamuti, Da Yong Hou, Hong Wei An, Yuliang Zhao, Hao Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The fabrication of functional assemblies with defined structures through controllable molecular packing under physiological conditions is challenging. Here, modularly designed peptide-cyanine conjugates that intracellularly self-assembly into 1D columnar superstructures with controlled cyanine aggregation were designed, and they exhibit distinct imaging or photothermal properties. The peptide backbone is cleaved by caspase-3/7 after entering the cells. Then the self-assembled residue, with a double cyanine substitution (Pr-2Cy), forms a P helical column in which H-aggregated cyanine dyes show 3.4-fold photothermal conversion efficiency compared to free ones. The self-assembled residue with a single cyanine substitution (Pr-1Cy) forms a loose column, in which cyanine dyes with undefined structure have a fluorescence quantum yield of up to 9.5 % (emission at 819 nm in H2O). This work provides a simple way to modify in vivo self-assembled peptides with functional molecules for achieving desired bio-applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7809-7819
Number of pages11
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number14
StatePublished - Mar 29 2021


  • dyes/pigments
  • imaging agents
  • near infrared
  • peptides
  • self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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