Long-term multiple color imaging of live cells using quantum dot bioconjugates


Luminescent quantum dots (QDs)—semiconductor nanocrystals—are a promising alternative to organic dyes for fluorescence-based applications. We have developed procedures for using QDs to label live cells and have demonstrated their use for long-term multicolor imaging of live cells. The two approaches presented are (i) endocytic uptake of QDs and (ii) selective labeling of cell surface proteins with QDs conjugated to antibodies. Live cells labeled using these approaches were used for long-term multicolor imaging. The cells remained stably labeled for over a week as they grew and developed. These approaches should permit the simultaneous study of multiple cells over long periods of time as they proceed through growth and development.

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Figure 1: Generalized labeling of living cells using QDs.
Figure 2: Generalized labeling of live cells using avidin-conjugated QDs.
Figure 3: Aggregation of QD-labeled starved D. discoideum amoebae.
Figure 4: Specific labeling of live cells expressing Pgp-GFP using QD bioconjugates.
Figure 5: Photostability and emission spectra of QDs.
Figure 6: Long-term, multiple color imaging of developing cells of D. discoideum.


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We thank Tom Donley, Ellen Goldman, George Anderson, Evelyn Voura, and Collin Thomas for their help and suggestions during the course of this work. J.K.J. and S.M.S. acknowledge financial support by the grants NSF BES 0110070 and NSF BES 0119468 to S.M.S. H.M. and J.M.M. acknowledge Dr. K. Ward at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for research support, and grants # N0001499WX30470 and # N0001400WX20094 for financial support. The views, opinions, and findings described in this report are those of the authors and should not be construed as official Department of the Navy positions, policies or decisions.

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Correspondence to Sanford M. Simon.

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Jaiswal, J., Mattoussi, H., Mauro, J. et al. Long-term multiple color imaging of live cells using quantum dot bioconjugates. Nat Biotechnol 21, 47–51 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt767

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