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Theranostics. 2018 Apr 30;8(11):3111-3125. doi: 10.7150/thno.24613. eCollection 2018.

Dual-functional protein for one-step production of a soluble and targeted fluorescent dye.

Author information

1
School of Life Sciences, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China.
2
School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China.
3
College of Precision Instrument and Opto-electronics Engineering, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China.
4
Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China.
5
Tianjin International Joint Academy of Biotechnology and Medicine, Tianjin 300457, China.

Abstract

Low water solubility and poor selectivity are two fundamental limitations that compromise applications of near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent probes. Methods: Here, a simple strategy that can resolve these problems simultaneously was developed by using a novel hybrid protein named RGD-HFBI that is produced by fusion of hydrophobin HFBI and arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) peptide. This unique hybrid protein inherits self-assembly and targeting functions from HFBI and RGD peptide respectively. Results: Boron-dipyrromethene (BODIPY) used as a model NIR dye can be efficiently dispersed in the RGD-HFBI solution by simple mixing and sonication for 30 min. The data shows that self-assembled RGD-HFBI forms a protein nanocage by using the BODIPY as the assembly template. Cell uptake assay proves that RGD-HFBI/BODIPY can efficiently stain αvβ3 integrin-positive cancer cells. Finally, in vivo affinity tests fully demonstrate that the soluble RGD-HFBI/BODIPY complex selectively targets and labels tumor sites of tumor-bearing mice due to the high selectivity of the RGD peptide. Conclusion: Our one-step strategy using dual-functional RGD-HFBI opens a novel route to generate soluble and targeted NIR fluorescent dyes in a very simple and efficient way and may be developed as a general strategy to broaden their applications.

KEYWORDS:

NIR fluorescent probes; RGD peptide; protein nanocage; self-assembly

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interest exists.

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