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The low pH of the lysosomal compartment often results in sequestration of chemotherapeutic agents that contain positively charged basic functional groups, leading to anti-cancer drug resistance. To visualize drug localization in lysosomes and its influence on lysosomal functions, we synthesize a group of drug-like compounds that contain both a basic functional group and a bisarylbutadiyne (BADY) group as a Raman probe. With quantitative stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) imaging, we validate that the synthesized lysosomotropic (LT) drug analogs show high lysosomal affinity, which can also serve as a photostable lysosome tracker. We find that long-term retention of the LT compounds in lysosomes leads to the increased amount and colocalization of both lipid droplets (LDs) and lysosomes in SKOV3 cells. With hyperspectral SRS imaging, further studies find that the LDs stuck in lysosomes are more saturated than the LDs staying out of the lysosomes, indicating impaired lysosomal lipid metabolism by the LT compounds. These results demonstrate that SRS imaging of the alkyne-based probes is a promising approach to characterizing the lysosomal sequestration of drugs and its influence on cell functions.

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This article is published in Biomedical Optics Express Volume 14, Issue 6, pp.2551-2564 (2023)

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