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Bioconjug Chem. 2009 Aug 19;20(8):1474-81. doi: 10.1021/bc800421f. Epub 2009 Jul 31.

Cys-diabody quantum dot conjugates (immunoQdots) for cancer marker detection.

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  • 1Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


The present work demonstrates the use of small bivalent engineered antibody fragments, cys-diabodies, for biological modification of nanoscale particles such as quantum dots (Qdots) for detection of target antigens. Novel bioconjugated quantum dots known as immunoQdots (iQdots) were developed by thiol-specific oriented coupling of tumor specific cys-diabodies, at a position away from the antigen binding site to amino PEG CdSe/ZnS Qdots. Initially, amino PEG Qdot 655 were coupled with reduced anti-HER2 cys-diabody by amine-sulfhydryl-reactive linker [N-ε-maleimidocaproyloxy] succinimide ester (EMCS) to produce anti-HER2 iQdot 655. Spectral characterization of the conjugate revealed that the spectrum was symmetrical and essentially identical to unconjugated Qdot. Specific receptor binding activity of anti-HER2 iQdot 655 was confirmed by flow cytometry on HER2 positive and negative cells. Immunofluorescence results showed homogeneous surface labeling of the cell membrane with Qdot 655 conjugate. In addition, cys-diabodies specific for HER2, as well as prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA), were conjugated successfully with amino PEG Qdot 800. All of these iQdots retain the photoluminescence properties of the unconjugated Qdot 800 as well as the antigen binding specificity of the cys-diabody as demonstrated by flow cytometry. Simultaneous detection of two tumor antigens on LNCaP/PSCA prostate cancer cells (which express PSCA and HER2) in culture was possible using two iQdots, anti-HER2 iQdot 655 and anti-PSCA iQdot 800. Thus, these iQdots are potentially useful as optical probes for sensitive, multiplexed detection of surface markers on tumor cells. The present thiol-specific conjugation method demonstrates a general approach for site-specific oriented coupling of cys-diabodies to a wide variety of nanoparticles without disturbing the antigen binding site and maintaining small size compared to intact antibody.

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