New methods of measuring biologically relevant concentrations of enzymes are necessary to allow greater understanding of biological systems. We have previously shown that aryl azo benzotriazolyl alkyl esters can act as enzyme substrates, with the progress of the reaction being monitored using SERRS (see Nat. Biotechnol., 2004, 22, 1133, ref. ). This is a wholly novel analytical application of SERRS, and the low detection levels of the technique allow for an ultra-sensitive enzyme assay. Masked enzyme substrates are used that are invisible to SERRS until enzymatic hydrolysis. Turnover of the substrate by the enzyme leads to the release of the surface-seeking dye necessary for SERRS, and intense signals are produced. Here we report an improved synthesis of 2H-benzotriazolyl alkyl esters via nucleophilic substitution of a chloromethyl ester by benzotriazolyl azo dyes, giving up to a ten-fold increase on previously reported yields. Introduction of electron-withdrawing groups to the benzotriazole ring allows control over the SERRS properties of the compounds. This is of great significance in expanding the synthetic flexibility and subsequently the fundamental use of these compounds as ultra-sensitive and selective reporters of enzyme activity.
- resonance raman scattering