Quantum dot-aptamer conjugates for synchronous cancer imaging, therapy, and sensing of drug delivery based on bi-fluorescence resonance energy transfer

Nano Lett. 2007 Oct;7(10):3065-70. doi: 10.1021/nl071546n. Epub 2007 Sep 14.


We report a novel quantum dot (QD)-aptamer(Apt)-doxorubicin (Dox) conjugate [QD-Apt(Dox)] as a targeted cancer imaging, therapy, and sensing system. By functionalizing the surface of fluorescent QD with the A10 RNA aptamer, which recognizes the extracellular domain of the prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA), we developed a targeted QD imaging system (QD-Apt) that is capable of differential uptake and imaging of prostate cancer cells that express the PSMA protein. The intercalation of Dox, a widely used antineoplastic anthracycline drug with fluorescent properties, in the double-stranded stem of the A10 aptamer results in a targeted QD-Apt(Dox) conjugate with reversible self-quenching properties based on a Bi-FRET mechanism. A donor-acceptor model fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between QD and Dox and a donor-quencher model FRET between Dox and aptamer result when Dox intercalated within the A10 aptamer. This simple multifunctional nanoparticle system can deliver Dox to the targeted prostate cancer cells and sense the delivery of Dox by activating the fluorescence of QD, which concurrently images the cancer cells. We demonstrate the specificity and sensitivity of this nanoparticle conjugate as a cancer imaging, therapy and sensing system in vitro.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / administration & dosage*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Quantum Dots*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide
  • Doxorubicin