Tetrazine- trans-Cyclooctene Chemistry Applied to Fabricate Self-Assembled Fluorescent and Radioactive Nanoparticles for in Vivo Dual Mode Imaging

Bioconjug Chem. 2019 Mar 20;30(3):547-551. doi: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.9b00038. Epub 2019 Feb 12.


Multimodal imaging agents combine two or more imaging modalities into one probe. Self-assembling fluorescent nanoparticles are a promising class of modular multimodal imaging probes as they can allow easy blending of imaging and targeting modalities. Our group recently developed a class of self-assembling and intrinsically fluorescent small molecule-based nanoparticles (SMNPs) with excellent optical properties. In this article, we describe the efficient radiolabeling of these SMNPs via a two-step bioconjugation strategy involving the inverse-electron-demand Diels-Alder ligation between a tetrazine (Tz)-tagged radiolabel and a trans-cyclooctene (TCO)-tagged fluorescent small molecule building block of the SMNPs. Studies in mice revealed that the SMNPs are well tolerated and could be monitored by both radioactivity and fluorescence, thereby demonstrating the potential of SMNPs in optical and dual-mode imaging in vivo. The work also testifies to the utility of the Tz-TCO conjugation chemistry for the labeling of self-assembled nanoparticles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cycloaddition Reaction
  • Cyclooctanes / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cyclooctanes / pharmacokinetics
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / pharmacokinetics
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 1-Ring / chemistry*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 1-Ring / pharmacokinetics
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Optical Imaging
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / chemistry*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacokinetics
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Cyclooctanes
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 1-Ring
  • Radiopharmaceuticals