A novel fluorescent ligand was synthesized as a high-affinity, high specificity probe for visualizing the serotonin transporter (SERT). The rhodamine fluorophore was extended from an aniline substitution on the 5-position of the dihydroisobenzofuran ring of citalopram (2, 1-(3-(dimethylamino)propyl)-1-(4-fluorophenyl)-1,3-dihydroisobenzofuran-5-carbonitrile), using an ethylamino linker. The resulting rhodamine-labeled ligand 8 inhibited [3H]5-HT uptake in COS-7 cells (Ki = 225 nM) with similar potency to the tropane-based JHC 1-064 (1), but with higher specificity towards the SERT relative to the transporters for dopamine and norepinephrine. Visualization of the SERT with compound 8 was demonstrated by confocal microscopy in HEK293 cells stably expressing EGFP–SERT.
Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett, 2013, Vol 23, Issue 1, p. 323-326