Advanced tools for cell imaging are of great interest to detect, localize and quantify molecular biomarkers of cancer or infection. We describe a novel photopolymerization method to coat quantum dots (QDs) with polymer shells, in particular molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), using the visible light emitted from QDs excited by UV light. Fluorescent core-shell particles specifically recognizing glucuronic acid (GlcA) or N-acetylneuraminic acid (NANA) were prepared. Simultaneous multiplexed labeling of human keratinocytes with green QDs conjugated with MIP-GlcA and red QDs conjugated with MIP-NANA was demonstrated by fluorescence imaging. The specificity of binding was verified with a non-imprinted control polymer and by enzymatically cleaving the terminal GlcA and NANA moieties. The coating strategy is potentially a generic method to functionalize QDs to address a much wider range of biocompatibility and biorecognition issues.
- Synthetic receptor
- Quantum dot
- Molecularly imprinted polymer