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Distinguishing Folate-receptor-positive Cells From Folate-receptor-negative Cells Using A Fluorescence Off-on Nanoprobe.

D. Feng, Y. Song, W. Shi, X. Li, Huimin Ma
Published 2013 · Chemistry, Medicine

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Based on the high affinity of folic acid (FA) for folate receptor (FR) that is overexpressed on the surface of many human cancer cells, we have developed a simple fluorescence nanoprobe (1) with multiple capability (fluorescence off-on response and cell-targeting ability) for imaging of FR-positive cells by covalently linking both FA and Rhodamine B (RB) to graphene oxide (GO) through disulfide bonds. The nanoprobe shows a weak fluorescence due to the electron transfer from GO to RB. However, the specific binding of FA to FR-positive cells leads to the internalization of the nanoprobe into the cells. As a result, the disulfide bonds of 1 are cleaved by intracellular glutathione, causing the release of the RB moiety from GO and thereby the generation of fluorescence. Compared to most of the reported fluorescence always-on nanoprobes for imaging FR-positive cells, the present fluorescence off-on nanoprobe can not only produce a high signal/background ratio but also avoid the false positive results often caused by nonspecific adsorption of the always-on nanoprobes on the surface of nontarget cells. Notably, the proposed off-on nanoprobe has been demonstrated to distinguish the cells with different expression levels of FR by culturing and analyzing different cell mixtures (Hela/NIH-3T3 and Hela/MCF-7 cells). Moreover, the nanoprobe is capable of discriminating FR-positive from FR-negative cells even with similar morphology. This method is simple and selective for fluorescence imaging of FR-positive cells.
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