The impeccable photostability of fluorescent nanodiamonds (FNDs) is an ideal property for use in fluorescence imaging of proteins in living cells. However, such an application requires highly specific labeling of the target proteins with FNDs. Furthermore, the surface of unmodified FNDs tends to adsorb biomolecules nonspecifically, which hinders the reliable targeting of proteins with FNDs. Here, we combined hyperbranched polyglycerol modification of FNDs with the β-lactamase-tag system to develop a strategy for selective imaging of the protein of interest in cells. The combination of these techniques enabled site-specific labeling of Interleukin-18 receptor alpha chain, a membrane receptor, with FNDs, which eventually enabled tracking of the diffusion trajectory of FND-labeled proteins on the membrane surface.
Keywords: membrane protein; nanodiamond; nitrogen-vacancy center; polyglycerol; β-lactamase tag.