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Nat Nanotechnol. 2017 May;12(4):322-328. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2016.260. Epub 2016 Nov 28.

Fluorescent nanodiamond tracking reveals intraneuronal transport abnormalities induced by brain-disease-related genetic risk factors.

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Laboratoire Aimé Cotton, CNRS, Université Paris-Sud, ENS Cachan, Université Paris-Saclay, 91405 Orsay, France.
Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurosciences, INSERM U894, Université Paris-Descartes, 75014 Paris, France.
Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA), Institut de Génomique, Centre National de Génotypage, 91057 Evry, France.
Institut de génétique et de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire, CNRS UMR 7104, INSERM U 964, Université de Strasbourg, 67400 Illkirch-Graffenstaden, France.
Institute of Atomic and Molecular Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei 106, Taiwan.
Department of Applied Chemistry, National Chi Nan University, Puli, Nantou Hsien 545, Taiwan.
Neuroscience Institute, CNR, 20129 Milano, Italy.
Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Department of Biology, ENS Cachan, Université Paris-Saclay, 94235 Cachan, France.


Brain diseases such as autism and Alzheimer's disease (each inflicting >1% of the world population) involve a large network of genes displaying subtle changes in their expression. Abnormalities in intraneuronal transport have been linked to genetic risk factors found in patients, suggesting the relevance of measuring this key biological process. However, current techniques are not sensitive enough to detect minor abnormalities. Here we report a sensitive method to measure the changes in intraneuronal transport induced by brain-disease-related genetic risk factors using fluorescent nanodiamonds (FNDs). We show that the high brightness, photostability and absence of cytotoxicity allow FNDs to be tracked inside the branches of dissociated neurons with a spatial resolution of 12 nm and a temporal resolution of 50 ms. As proof of principle, we applied the FND tracking assay on two transgenic mouse lines that mimic the slight changes in protein concentration (∼30%) found in the brains of patients. In both cases, we show that the FND assay is sufficiently sensitive to detect these changes.

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