ER stress imaging agent illuminates early AI virus infected cell

A collaboration between our research team and Professor Lee DW's group at Seoul National University has led to a remarkable development in the realm of cellular biology and virology. As outlined in our recent publication in Nature Communications (Nat. Commun. 2022, 13. 5841), we have successfully engineered a new class of fluorogenic molecules, termed as EliF, with the unique ability to selectively localize to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in cells and exhibit a marked response to ER stress. This unprecedented capability holds significant potential as an early diagnostic indicator for avian influenza virus infection. These EliF molecules demonstrate a distinct change in their fluorescence characteristics upon encountering cellular stress, such as during a viral infection, signifying the presence of the pathogen. This impressive functionality is achieved without the necessity of specific organelle-targeting functional groups. Our discovery has the potential to substantially advance our understanding of the heterogeneous process of influenza infection at the single-cell level. Furthermore, the practical application of these ER-stress sensing fluorophores extends to the development of more efficient screening tools for avian influenza, thereby facilitating more prompt and effective interventions in potential future outbreaks.