|Title||The development of intracellular nanosensors: Acid-degradable polymerized phospholipid vesicles and fluorescent labels|
Phospholipid vesicles are biocompatible, and have potential for intracellular applications, but minimal membrane integrity limits their use in membrane-rich environments. Stabilized membranes overcome this limitation while maintaining biocompatible surface structures. Additionally, the modularity of phospholipid bilayer makes them ideal components when designing biologically inspired sensors. Membrane composition can be tailored to specific applications, transmembrane proteins can provide added functionalities, and the isolated interior can prevent cytotoxic and interfering detection chemistries from altering the cellular environment. This work has focused on expanding the capabilities of stabilized phospholipid membranes, and determining which formulations hold promise in developing stabilized phospholipid vesicle nanosensors. Current membrane stabilization methods suffer from either incomplete stabilization, or irreversible stabilization limiting the applications of vesicle nanosensors. Therefore, a facile method to prepare robust phospholipid vesicles using commonly available phospholipids stabilized via the formation of an interpenetrating, acid-labile, cross-linked polymer network that imparts controlled polymer destabilization and subsequent vesicle degradation was developed. Upon exposure to acidic conditions, the highly cross-linked polymer network was converted to linear polymers, substantially reducing vesicle stability upon exposure to chemical and physical insults. The resultant transiently stabilized vesicles have potential for enhanced drug delivery and chemical sensing applications requiring minimal membrane defects, and allow for improved physiological clearance. Some vesicle nanosensor schemes may require the passive diffusion of low molecular weight species across the membrane in addition to controllable degradation. Therefore, the acid-degradable, polymer-stabilized, phospholipid vesicle production method was extended to bis-SorbPC membranes by simultaneously polymerizing the vesicle with an acetal-containing cross-linker. The vesicles display prolonged stability under physiological conditions, and significant additional stability compared to vesicles composed of naturally occurring phospholipids. The vesicles demonstrated potential utility for sensing and therapeutic applications. Phospholipid vesicles can also serve as labels to observe movement in macromolecular biological assemblies, but a dearth of caged fluorescent labels limits design and function. Therefore, the first caged fluorescent thiol was synthesized, shown to label amines rapidly, and demonstrated the required photolytic properties. The caged fluorescent thiol has potential as a label in observing the movement of macromolecular biological assemblies and as a fluorescent probe for observing endosomal trafficking and release.
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