Bioactivation and cell targeting of semiconductor CdSe/ZnS nanocrystals with phytochelatin-related peptides

J Am Chem Soc. 2004 May 19;126(19):6115-23. doi: 10.1021/ja031691c.


Synthetic phytochelatin-related peptides are used as an organic coat on the surface of colloidal CdSe/ZnS semiconductor nanocrystals synthesized from hydrophobic coordinating trioctyl phosphine oxide (TOPO) solvents. The peptides are designed to bind to the nanocrystals via a C-terminal adhesive domain. This adhesive domain, composed of multiple repeats of cysteines pairs flanked by hydrophobic 3-cyclohexylalanines, is followed by a flexible hydrophilic linker domain to which various bio-affinity tags can be attached. This surface coating chemistry results in small, buffer soluble, monodisperse peptide-coated nanoparticles with high colloidal stability and ensemble photophysical properties similar to those of TOPO-coated nanocrystals. Various peptide coatings are used to modulate the nanocrystal surface properties and to bioactivate the nanoparticles. CdSe/ZnS nanocrystals coated with biotinylated peptides efficiently bind to streptavidin and are specifically targeted to GPI-anchored avidin-CD14 chimeric proteins expressed on the membranes of live HeLa cells. This peptide coating surface chemistry provides a novel approach for the production of biocompatible photoluminescent nanocrystal probes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adhesiveness
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Biotin
  • Chelating Agents / chemistry*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Glutathione
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Metalloproteins / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Nanotechnology
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Particle Size
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Phytochelatins
  • Protein Binding
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Semiconductors*
  • Solubility
  • Solvents
  • Streptavidin / chemistry


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Chelating Agents
  • Metalloproteins
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Peptides
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Solvents
  • Biotin
  • trioctyl phosphine oxide
  • Streptavidin
  • Phytochelatins
  • Glutathione