Hybrid Azo-fluorophore Organic Nanoparticles as Emissive Turn-on Probes for Cellular Endocytosis

Abstract : The development of fluorescent organic nanoparticles, serving as bioimaging agents or drug cargos, represents a buoyant field of investigations. Nevertheless, their ulterior fate and structural integrity after cell uptake remain elusive. Toward this aim, we have elaborated original photoactive organic nanoparticles (d TEM ∼ 35−50 nm wide) with an off−on signal upon cellular internalization. Such nanoparticles are based on the noncovalent association of red-emitting benzothiadiazole (BDZ) derivatives and azo dyes, acting as fluorescence quenchers. Upon varying the azo/BDZ ratio, we found that quantitative emission quenching could be obtained with only a 0.2:1 azo/BDZ ratio and originated from exergonic oxidative and reductive photoinduced electron transfer from the azo units (Δ el G 0 = −0.21 and −0.29 eV, respectively). Such results revisited the origin of emission quenching, often confusedly ascribed to Forster resonance energy transfer. A nonlinear and sharp drop of the emission intensity with the increase in the azo unit density n was observed and presents comparable evolution to a n −1/3 mathematical law. Thorough biological examinations involving cancer cells prove a receptor-independent endocytosis pathway, leading to progressive cell lighting upon nanoparticle accumulation in the late endosomal/lysosomal compartments. Complete emission recovery of the initially quenched azo/BDZ nanosystems could be achieved by using mefloquine, which caused endosomal/lysosomal disruption, and release of their content in the cytoplasm. Such results demonstrate that the dotlike emission from endosomes actually stems from fully dissociated individual dyes and not integer nanoparticles. They conclude on the high spatial confinement promoted by organelles and finally question its severe impact on functional compounds or nanoparticles whose properties are strongly distance dependent.
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Submitted on : Monday, September 9, 2019 - 8:46:44 AM
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Joanna Boucard, Tina Briolay, Thibaut Blondy, Mohammed Boujtita, Steven Nedellec, et al.. Hybrid Azo-fluorophore Organic Nanoparticles as Emissive Turn-on Probes for Cellular Endocytosis. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, Washington, D.C. : American Chemical Society, 2019, ⟨10.1021/acsami.9b12989⟩. ⟨inserm-02281253⟩

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