Chemistry, Department of


First Advisor

Jiantao Guo

Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Chemistry, Under the Supervision of Professor Jiantao Guo. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2017

Copyright (c) 2017 Wenjia Zhai


Nitric oxide (NO) is an important molecule in living cells for signaling, thus a specific sensor to detect its level in live cells is needed. Currently there are a few small molecule probes for the detection of NO. A common shortcoming of these probes is their unavoidable leakage from the target cells. In this project, I seek to develop a novel green fluorescent protein (GFP)-based biosensor to detect cellular NO. This GFP-based sensor is genetically encodable and can potentially avoid the possible false positive result due to the leakage. I synthesized an unnatural amino acid (unAA) and examined its incorporation into GFP to replace the chromophore-forming tyrosine 66. I also investigated the ability of this unAA to detect NO.

Advisor: Jiantao Guo