In this Feature Article, we focus on recent advances in our research on molecular recognition and fluorescence sensing of phosphate anion derivatives of biological importance. Because of their significant roles in biological systems, considerable efforts have been devoted to developing detection or determination systems. However, the recognition and sensing of these anion species under aqueous biological conditions using small-molecular chemosensors still remain as a challenging research topic. We have been developing a variety of artificial receptors and fluorescent chemosensors for phosphoproteins and nucleoside polyphosphates in recent years. They consist of a binuclear Zn(ii)-dipicolylamine (Dpa) complex as a common binding motif for phosphate anion derivatives. Taking advantage of their strong binding affinities or high sensing abilities, a variety of biological assay systems have also been successfully developed, which includes the enzyme assays such as the kinase, phosphatase and glycosyltransferase reaction, as well as an inhibitor assay for the phosphoprotein-protein surface interaction.
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