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Anal Chem. 2013 Feb 19;85(4):2529-35. doi: 10.1021/ac303747t. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Fabrication of transferrin functionalized gold nanoclusters/graphene oxide nanocomposite for turn-on near-infrared fluorescent bioimaging of cancer cells and small animals.

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State Key Laboratory of Medicinal Chemical Biology, and Research Center for Analytical Sciences, College of Chemistry, Nankai University, 94 Weijin Road, Tianjin 300071, China.


Transferrin (Tf)-functionalized gold nanoclusters (Tf-AuNCs)/graphene oxide (GO) nanocomposite (Tf-AuNCs/GO) was fabricated as a turn-on near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent probe for bioimaging cancer cells and small animals. A one-step approach was developed to prepare Tf-AuNCs via a biomineralization process with Tf as the template. Tf acted not only as a stabilizer and a reducer but also as a functional ligand for targeting the transferrin receptor (TfR). The prepared Tf-AuNCs gave intense NIR fluorescence that can avoid interference from biological media such as tissue autofluorescence and scattering light. The assembly of Tf-AuNCs and GO gave the Tf-AuNCs/GO nanocomposite, a turn-on NIR fluorescent probe with negligible background fluorescence due to the super fluorescence quenching property of GO. The NIR fluorescence of the Tf-AuNCs/GO nanocomposite was effectively restored in the presence of TfR, due to the specific interaction between Tf and TfR and the competition of TfR with the GO for the Tf in Tf-AuNCs/GO composite. The developed turn-on NIR fluorescence probe offered excellent water solubility, stability, and biocompatibility, and exhibited high specificity to TfR with negligible cytotoxicity. The probe was successfully applied for turn-on fluorescent bioimaging of cancer cells and small animals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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