Cancer-cell-phenotype-dependent differential intracellular trafficking of unconjugated quantum dots

Sutapa Barua, Kaushal Rege

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


A diverse array of nanoparticles, including quantum dots (QDs), metals, polymers, liposomes, and dendrίmers, are being investigated as therapeutics and imaging agents in cancer diseases. However, the role of the cancer-cell phenotype on the uptake and intracellular fate of nanoparticles in cancer cells remains poorly understood. Reported here is that differences in cancer- cell phenolypes can lead to significant differences in intracellular sorting, trafficking, and localization of nanoparticles. Unconjugated anionic QDs demonstrate dramatically different intracellular profiles in three closely related human-prostate-cancer cells used in the investigation: PC3, PC3-flu, and PC3-PSMA. QDs demonstrate punctated intracellular localization throughout the cytoplasm in PC3 cells. In contrast, the nanoparticles localize mainly at a single juxtanuclear location (" dot-of-dots") inside the perinuclear recycling compartment in PC3-PSMA cells, where they co- localize with transferrin and the prostate-specific membrane antigen. The results indicate that nanoparticle sorting and transport is influenced by changes in cancer-cell phenotype and can have significant implications in the design and engineering of nanoscale drug delivery and imaging systems for advanced tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-376
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 6 2009


  • Intracellular transport
  • Microtubules
  • Nanoparticle trafficking
  • Perinuclear recycling com-partment
  • Quantum dots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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