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Semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) are considered as ideal fluorescent probes owing to their intrinsic optical properties. It has been demonstrated that the size and shape of nanoparticles significantly influence their behaviors in biological systems. In particular, one-dimensional (1D) nanoparticles with larger aspect ratios are desirable for cellular uptake. Here, we explore a facile and green method to prepare novel 1D wormlike QDs@SiO2 nanoparticles with controlled aspect ratios, wherein multiple QDs are arranged in the centerline of the nanoparticles. Then, an excellent cationic gene carrier, ethanolamine-functionalized poly(glycidyl methacrylate) (denoted by BUCT-PGEA), was in-situ produced via atom transfer radical polymerization on the surface of the QDs@SiO2 nanoparticles to achieve stable surfaces (QDs@SiO2-PGEA) for effective bioapplications. We found that the wormlike QDs@SiO2-PGEA nanoparticles demonstrated much higher gene transfection performance than ordinary spherical counterparts. In addition, the wormlike nanoparticles with larger aspect ratio performed better than those with smaller ratio. Furthermore, the gene delivery processes including cell entry and plasmid DNA (pDNA) escape and transport were also tracked in real time by the QDs@SiO2-PGEA/pDNA complexes. This work realized the integration of efficient gene delivery and real-time imaging within one controlled 1D nanostructure. These constructs will likely provide useful information regarding the interaction of nanoparticles with biological systems.

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Publication history

Received: 17 March 2016
Revised: 25 April 2016
Accepted: 06 May 2016
Published: 08 June 2016
Issue date: September 2016

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© Tsinghua University Press and Springer‐Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51173014, 51221002, 51325304, 51373017, 51302009 and 51473014), BUCT Fund for Disciplines Construction and Development (No. XK1513), Innovation and Promotion Project of Beijing University of Chemical Technology, and Collaborative Innovation Center for Cardiovascular Disorders, Beijing Anzhen Hospital Affiliated to the Capital Medical University.

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Email: nanores@tup.tsinghua.edu.cn

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