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Nano Lett. 2011 May 11;11(5):1868-73. doi: 10.1021/nl103004n. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

Tip-enhanced Raman scattering (TERS) from hemozoin crystals within a sectioned erythrocyte.

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Centre for Biospectroscopy, School of Chemistry, Monash University, 3800 Victoria, Australia.


Tip-enhanced Raman scattering (TERS) is a powerful technique to obtain molecular information on a nanometer scale, however, the technique has been limited to cell surfaces, viruses, and isolated molecules. Here we show that TERS can be used to probe hemozoin crystals at less than 20 nm spatial resolution in the digestive vacuole of a sectioned malaria parasite-infected cell. The TERS spectra clearly show characteristic bands of hemozoin that can be correlated to a precise position on the crystal by comparison with the corresponding atomic force microscopy (AFM) image. These are the first recorded AFM images of hemozoin crystals inside malaria-infected cells and clearly show the hemozoin crystals protruding from the embedding medium. TERS spectra recorded of these crystals show spectral features consistent with a five-coordinate high-spin ferric heme complex, which include the electron density marker band ν(4) at 1373 cm(-1) and other porphyrin skeletal and ring breathing modes at approximately 1636, 1557, 1412, 1314, 1123, and 1066 cm(-1). These results demonstrate the potential of the AFM/TERS technique to obtain nanoscale molecular information within a sectioned single cell. We foresee this approach paving the way to a new independent drug screening modality for detection of drugs binding to the hemozoin surface within the digestive vacuole of the malaria trophozoite.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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