Chemiluminescent Carbapenem-Based Molecular Probe for Detection of Carbapenemase Activity in Live Bacteria

Sayantan Das, Julian Ihssen, Lukas Wick, Urs Spitz*, Doron Shabat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carbapenemase-producing organisms (CPOs) pose a severe threat to antibacterial treatment due to the acquisition of antibiotic resistance. This resistance can be largely attributed to the antibiotic-hydrolyzing enzymes that the bacteria produce. Current carbapenem “wonder drugs”, such as doripenem, ertapenem, meropenem, imipenem, and so on, are resistant to regular β-lactamases, but susceptible to carbapenemases. Even worse, extended exposure of bacteria to these drugs accelerates the spread of resistance genes. In order to preserve the clinical efficacy of antibacterial treatment, carbapenem drugs should be carefully regulated and deployed only in cases of a CPO infection. Early diagnosis is therefore of paramount importance. Herein, we report the design, synthesis, and activity of the first carbapenemase-sensitive chemiluminescent probe, CPCL, which may be used to monitor CPO activity. The design of our probe enables enzymatic cleavage of the carbapenem core, which is followed by a facile 1,8-elimination process and the emission of green light through rapid chemical excitation. We have demonstrated the ability of the probe to detect a number of clinically relevant carbapenemases and the successful identification of CPO present in bacterial cultures, such as those used for clinical diagnosis. We believe that our use of “turn-on” chemiluminescence activation will find significant application in future diagnostic assays and improve antibacterial treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3647-3652
Number of pages6
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number16
StatePublished - 18 Mar 2020


  • carbapenemase
  • chemiluminescence
  • dioxetanes
  • gene expression
  • lactams
  • molecular probes


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