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Dynamically Long-Term Imaging of Cellular RNA by Fluorescent Carbon Dots with Surface Isoquinoline Moieties and Amines

Cheng, Yunying, Li, Chunmei, Mu, Ruizhu, Li, Yuanfang, Xing, Tiantian, Chen, Binbin, Huang, Chengzhi
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.19 pp. 11358-11365
Danio rerio, RNA, RNA probes, adenosine triphosphate, amines, apoptosis, biocompatibility, carbon quantum dots, drug interactions, fluorescence, fluorescent dyes, hot water treatment, image analysis, larvae, mitosis, moieties, monitoring, photostability
Cellular RNA dynamics are closely associated with a vast range of physiological processes that are mostly long-lasting. To uncover the association between RNA dynamics and these processes, fluorescent RNA probes with high specificity, photostability, and biocompatibility are compulsory. Herein, a series of fluorescent carbon dots (CDs) have been prepared by one-pot hydrothermal treatment of o-, m-, or p-phenylenediamines with triethylenetetramine. Only CDs derived from the meta precursor (m-CDs) with excellent photostability and biocompatibility can specifically bind to cellular RNA, allowing successfully long-term (up to 3 days) monitoring of RNA dynamics during cell apoptosis, mitosis, and proliferation. This RNA affinity can be attributed to the isoquinoline moieties and amines on the surface of m-CDs, which can bind to RNA through π–π stacking and electrostatic bonding, respectively. The cellular internalization of m-CDs is time-, temperature-, ATP-, caveolar, and microtubule-dependent. Additionally, investigations on the in vivo behavior of m-CD suggest that they can be efficiently and rapidly excreted from the zebrafish larvae body after 48 h. Our results provide a powerful tool for clarifying complex relationships between RNA dynamics and basic biological processes, disease development, or drug interactions.