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ACS Nano. 2008 Aug;2(8):1553-62. doi: 10.1021/nn8002136.

Site-specific labeling of enveloped viruses with quantum dots for single virus tracking.

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Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089, USA.


This study reports a general method of labeling enveloped viruses with semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) for use in single virus trafficking studies. Retroviruses, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), could be successfully tagged with QDs through the membrane incorporation of a short acceptor peptide (AP) that is susceptible to site-specific biotinylation and attachment of streptavidin-conjugated QDs. It was found that this AP tag-based QD labeling had little effect on the viral infectivity and allowed for the study of the kinetics of the internalization of the recombinant lentivirus enveloped with vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (VSVG) into the early endosomes. It also allows for the live cell imaging of the trafficking of labeled virus to the Rab5(+) endosomal compartments. This study further demonstrated by direct visualization of QD-labeled virus that VSVG-pseudotyped lentivirus enters cells independent of clatherin- and caveolin-pathways, while the entry of VSVG-pseudotyped retrovirus occurs via the clathrin pathway. The studies monitoring HIV particles using QD-labeling showed that we could detect single virions on the surface of target cells expressing either CD4/CCR5 or DC-SIGN. Further internalization studies of QD-HIV evidently showed that the clathrin pathway is the major route for DC-SIGN-mediated uptake of viruses. Taken together, our data demonstrate the potential of this QD-labeling for visualizing the dynamic interactions between viruses and target cell structures.


human immunodeficiency virus; nanobiotechnology; quantum dot; retrovirus; virus tracking

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