Mechanochemical delivery and dynamic tracking of fluorescent quantum dots in the cytoplasm and nucleus of living cells.
ABSTRACT Studying molecular dynamics inside living cells is a major but highly rewarding challenge in cell biology. We present a nanoscale mechanochemical method to deliver fluorescent quantum dots (QDs) into living cells, using a membrane-penetrating nanoneedle. We demonstrate the selective delivery of monodispersed QDs into the cytoplasm and the nucleus of living cells and the tracking of the delivered QDs inside the cells. The ability to deliver and track QDs may invite unconventional strategies for studying biological processes and biophysical properties in living cells with spatial and temporal precision, potentially with molecular resolution.
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ABSTRACT: Fluorescent semiconductor nanocrystals (quantum dots) have the potential to revolutionize biological imaging, but their use has been limited by difficulties in obtaining nanocrystals that are biocompatible. To address this problem, we encapsulated individual nanocrystals in phospholipid block-copolymer micelles and demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo imaging. When conjugated to DNA, the nanocrystal-micelles acted as in vitro fluorescent probes to hybridize to specific complementary sequences. Moreover, when injected into Xenopus embryos, the nanocrystal-micelles were stable, nontoxic (<5 x 10(9) nanocrystals per cell), cell autonomous, and slow to photobleach. Nanocrystal fluorescence could be followed to the tadpole stage, allowing lineage-tracing experiments in embryogenesis.Science 12/2002; 298(5599):1759-62. · 31.20 Impact Factor