Nanostructures based on quantum dots for application in promising methods of single- and multiphoton imaging and diagnostics
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Molecules recognizing biomarkers of diseases (monoclonal antibodies (monoABs)) are often too large for biomedical applications, and the conditions that are used to bind them with nanolabels lead to disordered orientation of monoABs with respect to the nanoparticle surface. Extremely small nanoprobes, designed via oriented conjugation of quantum dots (QDs) with single-domain antibodies (sdABs) derived from the immunoglobulin of llama and produced in the E. coli culture, have a hydrodynamic diameter less than 12 nm and contain equally oriented sdAB molecules on the surface of each QD. These nanoprobes exhibit excellent specificity and sensitivity in quantitative determination of a small number of cells expressing biomarkers. In addition, the higher diffusion coefficient of sdABs makes it possible to perform immunohistochemical analysis in bulk tissue, inaccessible for conventional monoABs. The necessary conditions for implementing high-quality immunofluorescence diagnostics are a high specificity of labeling and clear differences between the fluorescence of nanoprobes and the autofluorescence of tissues. Multiphoton micros-copy with excitation in the near-IR spectral range, which is remote from the range of tissue autofluorescence excitation, makes it possible to solve this problem and image deep layers in biological tissues. The two-photon absorption cross sections of CdSe/ZnS QDs conjugated with sdABs exceed the corresponding values for organic fluorophores by several orders of magnitude. These nanoprobes provide clear discrimination between the regions of tumor and normal tissues with a ratio of the sdAB fluorescence to the tissue autofluorescence upon two-photon excitation exceeding that in the case of single-photon excitation by a factor of more than 40. The data obtained indicate that the sdAB-QD conjugates used as labels provide the same, or even better, quality as the “gold standard” of immunohistochemical diagnostics. The developed nanoprobes are expected to find wide application in high-efficiency imaging of tumor and multiparameter diagnostics.
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