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Endocytic pathway of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 in human umbilical vein endothelial cell identified in vitro by using functionalized nontoxic fluorescent quantum dots

Journal article
Authors Y. Fu
J. Jussi
Q. Wang
H. Brismar
Y. Liu
X. Yang
Yun Chen
Published in Sensors and Actuators, B: Chemical
Volume 297
ISSN 0925-4005
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences
Language en
Keywords Bionanosensors, Colloidal fluorescent quantum dot, Endosome, Human umbilical vein endothelial cell, Lysosome, Vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM1)
Subject categories Cardiovascular medicine


Studies about vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM1) in tumor growth, metastasis, and angiogenesis suggest that targeting VCAM1 expression is an attractive strategy for diagnosis and anti-tumor therapy. However, the endocytic pathway of VCAM1 in vascular cells has not been well characterized. In this study we visualize the endocytic pathway of tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) induced VCAM1 in human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) in vitro using 5-carboxyfluorescein labeled VCAM1 binding peptides and fluorescent water-dispersible 3-mercaptopropionic acid (3MPA)-coated CdSe-CdS/Cd0.5Zn0.5S/ZnS core–multishell nontoxic quantum dots (3MPA-QDs) functionalized with VCAM1 binding peptides. Clear key in vitro observations are as follows: (a) 3MPA-QDs functionalized with VCAM1 binding peptides, denoted as VQDs, adhered and aggregated cumulatively to cell membrane around 2 h after VQD deposition to cell culture medium and were found in lysosomes in TNFα-treated HUVECs approximately 24 h after VQD deposition; (b) VQDs remained in TNFα-treated HUVECs for the whole 16 days of the experimental observation period; (c) quite differently, 3MPA-QDs were endocytosed then exocytosed by HUVECs via endosomes in about 24–48 h after 3MPA-QD deposition. Our study suggests that VCAM1 molecules, initially expressed on cell membrane induced by TNFα treatment, are internalized into lysosomes. This provides a novel means to deliver materials to lysosomes such as enzyme replacement therapy. Moreover, our meticulous sensing methodology of devising fluorescent nontoxic QDs advances biosensing technique for studying cellular activities in vitro and in vivo. © 2019 The Authors

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