Gold-nanobeacons for simultaneous gene specific silencing and intracellular tracking of the silencing events

Biomaterials. 2013 Mar;34(10):2516-23. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.12.015. Epub 2013 Jan 11.


The potential of a single molecular nanoconjugate to intersect all RNA pathways: from gene specific downregulation to silencing the silencers, i.e. siRNA and miRNA pathways, is demonstrated. Gold-nanobeacons are capable of efficiently silencing single gene expression, exogenous siRNA and endogenous miRNAs while yielding a quantifiable fluorescence signal directly proportional to the level of silencing. The silencing potential is comparable to that of traditional siRNA but the same nanoconjugates structure is also capable of reversing the effect of an exogenous siRNA. We further demonstrate the Gold-nanobeacons' efficiency at targeting and silencing miR-21, an endogenous miRNA involved in cancer development, which could become a valid nanotheranostics approach. Again, expression of miR-21 was inhibited with concomitant increase of the Au-nanobeacons' fluorescence that can be used to assess the silencing effect. This way, a single nanostructure can be used to intersect all RNA regulatory pathways while allowing for direct assessment of effective silencing and cell localization via a quantifiable fluorescence signal, making cancer nanotheranostics possible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Survival / genetics
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Gene Silencing / physiology*
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • RNA, Small Interfering


  • MIRN21 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Gold