The field of molecular detection and targeted imaging has evolved considerably with the introduction of fluorescent semiconductor nanocrystals. Manganese-doped zinc sulphide nanocrystals (ZnS:Mn NCs), which are widely used in electroluminescent displays, have been explored for the first time for direct immunofluorescent (IF) labeling of clinical tumor tissues. ZnS:Mn NCs developed through a facile wet chemistry route were capped using amino acid cysteine, conjugated to streptavidin and thereafter coupled to biotinylated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibody utilizing the streptavidin-biotin linkage. The overall conjugation yielded stable EGFR antibody conjugated ZnS:Mn NCs (EGFR ZnS:Mn NCs) with a hydrodynamic diameter of 65 ± 15 nm, and having an intense orange-red fluorescence emission at 598 nm. Specific labeling of EGF receptors on EGFR+ve A431 cells in a co-culture with EGFR-ve NIH3T3 cells was demonstrated using these nanoprobes. The primary antibody conjugated fluorescent NCs could also clearly delineate EGFR over-expressing cells on clinical tumor tissues processed by formalin fixation as well as cryopreservation with a specificity of 86% and accuracy of 88%, in comparison to immunohistochemistry. Tumor tissues labeled with EGFR ZnS:Mn NCs showed good fluorescence emission when imaged after storage even at 15 months. Thus, ZnS nanobioconjugates with dopant-dependent and stable fluorescence emission show promise as an efficient, target-specific fluorophore that would enable long term IF labeling of any antigen of interest on clinical tissues. © 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd.
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, “Mn-doped zinc sulphide nanocrystals for immunofluorescent labeling of epidermal growth factor receptors on cells and clinical tumor tissues”, Nanotechnology, vol. 25, 2014.