A quantification method to measure endocytosis was designed to assess cellular uptake and specificity of a targeting nanoparticle platform. A simple N-hydroxysuccinimide ester conjugation technique to functionalize 100-nm hollow silica nanoshell particles with fluorescent reporter fluorescein isothiocyanate and folate or polyethylene glycol (PEG) was developed. Functionalized nanoshells were characterized using scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy and the maximum amount of folate functionalized on nanoshell surfaces was quantified with UV-Vis spectroscopy. The extent of endocytosis by HeLa cervical cancer cells and human foreskin fibroblast (HFF-1) cells was investigated in vitro using fluorescence and confocal microscopy. A simple fluorescence ratio analysis was developed to quantify endocytosis versus surface adhesion. Nanoshells functionalized with folate showed enhanced endocytosis by cancer cells when compared to PEG functionalized nanoshells. Fluorescence ratio analyses showed that 95% of folate functionalized silica nanoshells which adhered to cancer cells were endocytosed, while only 27% of PEG functionalized nanoshells adhered to the cell surface and underwent endocytosis when functionalized with 200 and 900 μg, respectively. Additionally, the endocytosis of folate functionalized nanoshells proved to be cancer cell selective while sparing normal cells. The developed fluorescence ratio analysis is a simple and rapid verification/validation method to quantify cellular uptake between datasets by using an internal control for normalization.
A simple method to fabricate Eu3+ doped silica nanoshells particles with 100 and 200 nm diameters is reported. Amino polystyrene beads were used as templates, and an 8 to 10 nm thick silica gel coating was formed by the sol-gel reaction. After removing the template by calcination, porous dehydrated silica gel nanoshells of uniform size were obtained. The Eu3+ doped silica nanoshells exhibited a red emission at 615 nm on UV excitation. The porous structure of the silica shell wall was characterized by transmission electron microscopy measurements, while particle size and zeta potentials of the particles suspended in aqueous solution were characterized by dynamic light scattering. Two-photon microscopy was used to image the nanoshells after assimilation by HeLa cancer cells.
Detection of chemical processes on a single molecule scale is the ultimate goal of sensitive analytical assays. We have
explored methods to detect chemical analytes in solution using synthetic derivatives of gramicidin A (gA). We exploited
the functional properties of an ion channel-forming peptideg—gA—to report changes in the local environment near the
opening of these semi-synthetic nanopores upon exposure to specific external stimuli. These peptide-based nanosensors
detect reaction-induced changes in the chemical or physical properties of functional groups presented at the opening of
the pore. This paper discusses the development of gA-based sensors for detecting external factors such as metal ions in
solution or for detecting specific wavelengths of light. We propose that gA-based ion channel sensors offer tremendous
potential for ultra sensitive functional detection since a single chemical modification of each individual sensing element
can lead to readily detectable changes in channel conductance.