Quantum dot-loaded monofunctionalized DNA icosahedra for single-particle tracking of endocytic pathways

Nat Nanotechnol. 2016 Dec;11(12):1112-1119. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2016.150. Epub 2016 Aug 22.


Functionalization of quantum dots (QDs) with a single biomolecular tag using traditional approaches in bulk solution has met with limited success. DNA polyhedra consist of an internal void bounded by a well-defined three-dimensional structured surface. The void can house cargo and the surface can be functionalized with stoichiometric and spatial precision. Here, we show that monofunctionalized QDs can be realized by encapsulating QDs inside DNA icosahedra and functionalizing the DNA shell with an endocytic ligand. We deployed the DNA-encapsulated QDs for real-time imaging of three different endocytic ligands-folic acid, galectin-3 (Gal3) and the Shiga toxin B-subunit (STxB). Single-particle tracking of Gal3- or STxB-functionalized QD-loaded DNA icosahedra allows us to monitor compartmental dynamics along endocytic pathways. These DNA-encapsulated QDs, which bear a unique stoichiometry of endocytic ligands, represent a new class of molecular probes for quantitative imaging of endocytic receptor dynamics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cricetulus
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • Dynamic Light Scattering
  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Folic Acid / chemistry
  • Galectin 3 / analysis
  • Galectin 3 / chemistry
  • Galectin 3 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Molecular Imaging / instrumentation
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*
  • Quantum Dots / chemistry*
  • Shiga Toxins / analysis
  • Shiga Toxins / chemistry
  • Shiga Toxins / metabolism


  • Galectin 3
  • Shiga Toxins
  • stxB toxin
  • DNA
  • Folic Acid