The present study details the development of biotin tagged avidin functionalized Zinc Sulphide [ZnS] nanocrystals through a simple aqueous chemistry route at room temperature for targeted imaging applications. Surface functionalization of Manganese doped ZnS nanocrystals with L-cysteine provided functional groups that facilitated its conjugation to avidin. Further biotinylation of these particles through the strong non-covalent interaction between biotin and avidin enabled highly specific labeling of the biotin receptors on human hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cells. The nanobioconjugates thus developed exhibited stable and brilliant fluorescence upon labeling the biotin receptors on cells as observed through fluorescence microscopy. Characterization studies using X-ray diffraction, dynamic light scattering as well as Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy revealed the bioconjugated particles to be appropriately functionalized and stable, with size ranging from 50 to 80 nm. Cytotoxicity of this material system evaluated using MTT, LDH leakage and apoptosis assay revealed its non-toxic nature even for high concentrations extending upto 250 μM and 48 hours of incubation. Our results confirmed that biotinylated ZnS nanocrystals offer great potential for highly specific labeling and targeted imaging of cancer cells. Copyright © 2011 American Scientific Publishers. All rights reserved.
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J. Aswathy, Jahnavi, S., Krishna, R., Manzoor, K., Nair, S., and Menon, D., “Targeted labeling of cancer cells using biotin tagged avidin functionalized biocompatible fluorescent nanocrystals”, Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, vol. 11, pp. 7611-7620, 2011.