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Anal Chem. 2012 May 1;84(9):4140-6. doi: 10.1021/ac3003402. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

One-pot synthesis of aptamer-functionalized silver nanoclusters for cell-type-specific imaging.

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  • 1State Lab of Analytical Chemistry for Life Science (MOE), School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, People's Republic of China.


As an emerging category of fluorescent metal nanoclusters, oligonucleotide-templated silver nanoclusters (Ag NCs) have attracted a lot of interest and have shown wide application in biorelated disciplines. However, the weak fluorescence emission and poor permeability to cell membranes tethered further intracellular applications of Ag NCs. AS1411 is an antiproliferative G-rich phosphodiester oligonucleotide and currently an anticancer agent under phase II clinical trials. Herein, we present a strategy to synthesize AS1411-functionalized Ag NCs with excellent fluorescence through a facile one-pot process. Confocal laser scanning microscopy and Z-axis scanning confirmed that the AS1411-functionalized Ag NCs could be internalized into MCF-7 human breast cancer cells and were able to specifically stain nuclei with red color. To our surprise, 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-z-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay demonstrated the Ag NCs were cytocompatible and showed better inhibition effects than pure AS1411 on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. In addition, a universal design of the oligonucleotide scaffold for synthesis of Ag NCs was extended to other aptamers, such as Sgc8c and mucin 1 aptamer. Due to the facile synthesis procedure and capability of specific target recognition, this fluorescent platform will potentially broaden the applications of Ag NCs in biosensing and biological imaging.

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