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A Lysosome-Targetable Fluorescence Probe Based on L-Cysteine-Polyamine-Morpholine-Modified Quantum Dots for Imaging in Living Cells

Authors Zhang ZQ, Yao WJ, Qiao LL, Yang X, Shi J, Zhao MX

Received 16 October 2019

Accepted for publication 24 February 2020

Published 9 March 2020 Volume 2020:15 Pages 1611—1622


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Mian Wang

Zhi-Qiang Zhang, Wen-Jing Yao, Lu-Lu Qiao, Xiaojing Yang, Jiahua Shi, Mei-Xia Zhao

Key Laboratory of Natural Medicine and Immune Engineering, Henan University, Kaifeng 475004, People’s Republic of China

Correspondence: Mei-Xia Zhao
Key Laboratory of Natural Medicine and Immune Engineering, Henan University, Jinming Road, Kaifeng 475004, People’s Republic of China

Purpose: Quantum dots (QDs) are used as fluorescent probes due to their high fluorescence intensity, longevity of fluorescence, strong light-resistant bleaching ability and high light stability. Therefore, we explore a more precise probe that can target an organelle.
Methods: In the current study, a new class of fluorescence probes were developed using QDs capped with 4 different L-cysteine-polyamine-morpholine linked by mercapto groups. Ligands were characterised by Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), H-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (1H NMR) spectroscopy, and 13C NMR spectroscopy. Modified QDs were characterized by Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), Ultraviolet and visible spectrophotometry (UV–Vis), and fluorescence microscopy. And the biological activity of modified QDs was explored by using MTT assay with HeLa, SMMC-7721 and HepG2 cells. The fluorescence imaging of modified QDs was obtained by confocal laser scanning fluorescence microscopy (CLSM).
Results: Synthesized QDs ranged between 4 to 5 nm and had strong optical emission properties. UV–Vis and fluorescence spectra demonstrated that the cysteine-polyamine-morpholine were successfully incorporated into QD nanoparticles. The MTT results demonstrated that modified QDs had lesser cytotoxicity when compared to unmodified QDs. In addition, modified QDs had strong fluorescence intensity in HeLa cells and targeted lysosomes of HeLa cells.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates the modified QDs efficiently entered cells and could be used as a potential lysosome-targeting fluorescent probe.

Keywords: quantum dots, fluorescence probe, lysosome-targetable, cells imaging

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