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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e22802. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022802. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

Gold nanoparticle-based surface-enhanced Raman scattering for noninvasive molecular probing of embryonic stem cell differentiation.

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Department of Applied Physics, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Suita City, Osaka, Japan.


This study reports the use of gold nanoparticle-based surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) for probing the differentiation of mouse embryonic stem (mES) cells, including undifferentiated single cells, embryoid bodies (EBs), and terminally differentiated cardiomyocytes. Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) were successfully delivered into all 3 mES cell differentiation stages without affecting cell viability or proliferation. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) confirmed the localization of GNPs inside the following cell organelles: mitochondria, secondary lysosome, and endoplasmic reticulum. Using bright- and dark-field imaging, the bright scattering of GNPs and nanoaggregates in all 3 ES cell differentiation stages could be visualized. EB (an early differentiation stage) and terminally differentiated cardiomyocytes both showed SERS peaks specific to metabolic activity in the mitochondria and to protein translation (amide I, amide II, and amide III peaks). These peaks have been rarely identified in undifferentiated single ES cells. Spatiotemporal changes observed in the SERS spectra from terminally differentiated cardiomyocyte tissues revealed local and dynamic molecular interactions as well as transformations during ES cell differentiation.

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