Microchimica Acta

, 186:461 | Cite as

γ-Aminobutyric acid-modified graphene oxide as a highly selective and low-toxic fluorescent nanoprobe for relay recognition of copper(II) and cysteine

  • Xiaotong Li
  • Kaimei Fan
  • Wukui Kang
  • Ruimei Yang
  • Baohan Qu
  • Lihua LuEmail author
Original Paper


A sensitive and selective graphene oxide (GO)-based fluorescent nanoprobe has been developed for the relay recognition of Cu2+ and cysteine (Cys) by covalently grafting γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) onto GO. The fluorescence of the probe (with excitation/emission maxima at 360/445 nm) is selectively quenched by Cu2+ via static fluorescence quenching. Fluorescence drops linearly as the concentration of Cu2+ is increased from 50 nM to 1.0 µM, and the detection limit for Cu2+ is calculated as 15 nM. By virtue of the strong interaction between Cys and Cu2+, the GO-GABA/Cu2+ complex can further sensitively recognize Cys in a “switch-on” mode. The linear range for Cys detection is from 50 nM to 1.0 µM, and the detection limit is 38 nM. The probe has low cytotoxicity, and it works well inside living cells, which is verified by the successful application in imaging of LLC-PK1 cells.

Graphical abstract

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) modified graphene oxide (GO) is a highly selective nanoprobe for the fluorometric relay recognition of Cu2+ and Cys.


Amino acids Porcine renal cell Cell imaging Low toxicity Copper ion 



This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21705089), the Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province (No. ZR2017MB064, ZR2018MB030), Science and Technology Program of Qingdao (No.18-6-1-83-nsh), the Project of Shandong Province Higher Educational Science and Technology Program (J17KA109) and the Research Foundation for Distinguished Scholars of Qingdao Agricultural University (No. 663-1116010).

Compliance with ethical standards

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2019_3582_MOESM1_ESM.docx (631 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 630 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaotong Li
    • 1
  • Kaimei Fan
    • 1
  • Wukui Kang
    • 1
  • Ruimei Yang
    • 2
  • Baohan Qu
    • 1
  • Lihua Lu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical SciencesQingdao Agricultural UniversityQingdaoChina
  2. 2.College of Veterinary MedicineQingdao Agricultural UniversityQingdaoChina

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