Ligand bound quantum dots for intracellular imaging of neural receptors

Tania Q. Vu, Sujata Sundara Rajan, Hongyan Liu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Quantum dots (QDs) may serve as improved platforms for the complex modulation and ultra-sensitive imaging of molecular signaling in cells. The time course and spatial localization of activated ligand-receptor complexes and their trafficking within cells is becoming increasingly understood as vital for propagating cell signals. However, the movement and fate of ligand-receptor pairs inside cells is difficult to define with current technologies. We have studied the intracellular trafficking of TrkA receptors using QDs conjugated with nerve growth factor, a neuropeptide ligand critical for nervous system development and regulation. We find that NGF-QDs bind and activate TrkA surface receptors in PC12 neurons. Spatiotemporal maps of TrkA-NGF-QD endocytosis and translocation can be directly visualized with single QD resolution. Moreover, single molecule tracking experiments indicates that QDs complexes are actively shuttled over long distances within newly-sprouted neuronal processes. These results indicate that QDs can serve as effective high-resolution probe to track ligand-receptor function in the interior of cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationColloidal Quantum Dots for Biomedical Applications II
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
EventColloidal Quantum Dots for Biomedical Applications II - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 20 2007Jan 23 2007

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


OtherColloidal Quantum Dots for Biomedical Applications II
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose, CA


  • Intracellular
  • Ligand
  • Nerve growth factor
  • Neuron
  • Quantum dot
  • Receptor
  • Single molecule
  • Tracking
  • Trafficking
  • TrkA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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