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Tumor-Targeted Graphitic Carbon Nitride Nanoassembly for Activatable Two-Photon Fluorescence Imaging

Liu, Jin-Wen, Wang, Yu-Min, Zhang, Chong-Hua, Duan, Lu-Ying, Li, Zheng, Yu, Ru-Qin, Jiang, Jian-Hui
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.7 pp. 4649-4656
carbon nitride, fluorescence, fluorescent dyes, graphene, hyaluronic acid, hyaluronoglucosaminidase, image analysis, nanoparticles, nanosheets, neoplasm cells, neoplasms, physicochemical properties, receptors
Unique physicochemical characteristics of graphitic carbon nitride (g-CN) nanosheets suit them to be a useful tool for two-photon fluorescence bioimaging. Current g-CN nanosheets based imaging probes typically use the “always-on” design strategies, which may suffer from increased fluorescence background and limited contrast. To advance corresponding applications, g-CN nanosheets based activatable two-photon fluorescence probes remain to be explored. For the first time, we developed an activatable two-photon fluorescence probe, constructed from a nanoassembly of g-CN nanosheets and hyaluronic acid (HA)–gold nanoparticles (HA–AuNPs), for detection and imaging of hyaluronidase (HAase) in cancer cells. The deliberately introduced HA in our design not only functions as the buffering layer for stabilizing AuNPs and inducing corresponding self-assembly on g-CN nanosheets but also as a pilot for targeting HA receptors overexpressed on cancer cell surfaces. Our results show that the developed nanoassembly enables specific detection and activatable imaging of HAase in cancer cells and deep tissues, with superb signal-to-background ratio and high sensitivity. This nanoassembly can afford a promising platform for highly specific and sensitive imaging of HAase and for related cancer diagnosis.