The unique photophysical properties of gold nanomaterials combined with progress in developing effective surfacefunctionalization strategies has motivated researchers to employ them as tools for use in biomedical imaging, biosensing, diagnostics, photothermal therapy, and as drug and gene delivery vehicles. However, a major challenge limiting these advancements has been the unavailability of effective strategies to deliver these and other nanocrystals into the cytoplasm of live cells. In this study, we demonstrate that the use of a chemically-synthesized anti-microbial peptide, SVS-1, can promote non-endocytic uptake of both small size gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and larger size gold nanorods (AuNRs) into mammalian cells. For this, colloidally stable AuNP and AuNRs, surface ligated with an amine-functionalized polymer, His-PIMA-PEG-OCH3/NH2 were prepared. The amine groups allow dual, covalent attachment of cysteine terminated SVS-1 (via a thioether linkage) and NHS-ester-Texas-Red dye onto the nanocrystal surfaces. We use fluorescence microscopy to demonstrate nanocrystal staining throughout the cytoplasmic volume of the cells incubated with these conjugates. More importantly, we have conducted additional endocytosis inhibition experiments where cells were incubated with the conjugates at 4°C. Here too, the imaging data have shown significant levels of nanocrystal uptake, further verifying that physical translocation of these conjugates takes place through the cell membrane independent of endocytosis. These findings are promising and can provide critical support for the widespread applications of nanomaterials in the field of biology.
Anshika Kapur, Wentao Wang, Juan Diaz Hernandez, Scott Medina, Joel P. Schneider, and Hedi Mattoussi, "Anti-microbial peptide facilitated cytosolic delivery of metallic gold nanomaterials," Proc. SPIE 10507, Colloidal Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications XIII, 105070R (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 29, 2018; Published: 23 February 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2285661.
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