Quantifiable and Inexpensive Cell-Free Fluorescent Method to Confirm the Ability of Novel Compounds to Chelate Iron

Andrew Carter, Stephany Veuger*, Seth Racey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer cells require large amounts of iron to maintain their proliferation. Iron metabolism is considered a hallmark of cancer, making iron a valid target for anti-cancer approaches. The development of novel compounds and the identification of leads for further modification requires that proof of mechanism assays be carried out. There are many assays to evaluate the impact on proliferation; however, the ability to chelate iron is an important and sometimes overlooked end-point measure due to the high costs of equipment and the challenge to quickly and reproducibly quantify the strength of chelation. Here, we describe a quantifiable and inexpensive cell-free fluorescent method to confirm the ability of novel compounds to chelate iron. Our assay relies on the commercially available inexpensive fluorescent dye Calcein, whose fluorescence can be quantified on most fluorescent microtiter plate readers. Calcein is a weak iron chelator, and its fluorescence is quenched when it binds Fe2+/3+; fluorescence is restored when a novel chelator outcompetes Calcein for bound Fe2+/3+. The removal of fluorescent quenching and the resulting increase in fluorescence allows the chelation ability of a novel putative chelator to be determined. Therefore, we offer an inexpensive, high-throughput assay that allows the rapid screening of novel candidate chelator compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere66421
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number204
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2024

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