As control over the growth, stabilization and functionalization of inorganic nanoparticles continue to advance, interest in integrating these materials with biological systems has steadily grown in the past decade. Much attention has been directed towards identifying effective approaches to promote cytosolic internalization of the nanoparticles while avoiding endocytosis. We describe the use of NωV virus derived gamma peptide and a chemically synthesized anticancer peptide, SVS-1 peptide, as vehicles to promote the non-endocytic uptake of luminescent quantum dots (QDs) inside live cells. The gamma peptide is expressed in E. coli as a fusion protein with poly-his tagged MBP (His-MBP-γ) to allow self-assembly onto QDs via metal-histidine conjugation. Conversely, the N-terminal cysteine residue of the SVS-1 peptide is attached to the functionalized QDs via covalent coupling chemistry. Epi-fluorescence microscopy images show that the QD-conjugate staining is distributed throughout the cytoplasm of cell cultures. Additionally, the QD staining does not show co-localization with transferrin-dye-labelled endosomes or DAPI stained nuclei. The QD uptake observed in the presence of physical and pharmacological endocytosis inhibitors further suggest that a physical translocation of QDs through the cell membrane is the driving mechanism for the uptake.
Anshika Kapur, Malak Safi, Tatiana Domitrovic, Scott Medina, Goutam Palui, John E. Johnson, Joel Schneider, and Hedi Mattoussi, "Peptide mediated intracellular delivery of semiconductor quantum dots," Proc. SPIE 10078, Colloidal Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications XII, 100780S (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 30, 2017; Published: 22 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2252717.
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