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Chlorophylls, known as the key building blocks of natural light-harvesting antennae, are essential to utilize solar energy from visible to near-infrared (NIR) region during the photosynthesis process. The fundamental studies for the relationship between structure and photophysical properties of chlorophylls disclosed the importance of -peripheral modification and thus boosted the fast growth of NIR absorbing/emissive porphyrinoids via altering the extent of π-conjugation and the degree of distortion from the planarity of macrocycle. Despite the tremendous progress made in various porphyrin-based synthetic models, it still remains a challenge to precisely modulate photophysical properties through fine-tuning of -peripheral structures in the way natural chlorophylls do. With this in mind, we initiated a program and focused on -CF-substituted porpholactone (), in which one -pyrrolic double bond was replaced by a lactone moiety, as an attractive platform to construct the bioinspired library of NIR porphyrinoids. In this Account, we summarize our recent contributions to the bioinspired design, synthesis, photophysical characterization, and applications of porpholactones and their derivatives. We have developed a general, convenient method to directly prepare porpholactones in large scale up to gram, which forms the chemical basis of porpholactone chemistry. By modulation of the saturation level and in particular regioisomerization of -dilactone moieties, a synthetic library constituted by a series of porpholactones and their derivatives has been established. Thanks to the electron-withdrawing nature of lactone moiety, derivation of the saturation levels gives help to build stable models for chlorin, bacteriochlorin, and tunichlorin. It is worth noting that regioisomerization of dilactone moieties mimics the relative orientation of -substituents in natural chlorophylls and hemes, which was considered as the key factor to tune NIR absorption and reactivity. Porpholactones can illustrate the capability of fine-tuning photophysical properties including the excited triplet states by subtle alteration of -peripheral structures in the presence of transition metals and lanthanides (Ln). Furthermore, they can serve as efficient photosensitizers for singlet oxygen and NIR Ln, showing potential applications in cell imaging and photocytotoxicity studies. The high luminescence, tunable structures, high cellular uptake, and intense NIR absorption render them as promising and competitive candidates for theranostics and . Therefore, extending the studies of "porpholactone chemistry" not only tests the fundamental understanding of the structure-function relationship that governs NIR photophysical properties of natural tetrapyrrole cofactors such as chlorophylls but also provides the guiding principles for the bioinspired design of NIR luminescent molecular probes with various applications. Taken together, as a new synthetic porphyrin derivative, porpholactone chemistry shines light on synthetic porphyrin, bioinorganic, and lanthanide chemistry.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Accounts of chemical research
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Chemistry dealing with the composition and preparation of agents having PHARMACOLOGIC ACTIONS or diagnostic use.
Field of chemistry pertaining to the study of inorganic compounds or ions and their interactions with biological ligands at the molecular level.
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