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Hydroporphyrin-Doped Near-Infrared-Emitting Polymer Dots for Cellular Fluorescence Imaging

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journal contribution
posted on 25.04.2022, 17:03 by Connor Riahin, Adam Meares, Nopondo N. Esemoto, Marcin Ptaszek, Michael LaScola, Narendra Pandala, Erin Lavik, Mengran Yang, Gary Stacey, Dehong Hu, Jeremiah C. Traeger, Galya Orr, Zeev Rosenzweig
Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent semiconductor polymer dots (Pdots) have shown great potential for fluorescence imaging due to their exceptional chemical and photophysical properties. This paper describes the synthesis of NIR-emitting Pdots with great control and tunability of emission peak wavelength. The Pdots were prepared by doping poly­[(9,9-dioctylfluorenyl-2,7-diyl)-alt-co-(1,4-benzo-(2,1′,3)-thiadiazole)] (PFBT), a semiconducting polymer commonly used as a host polymer in luminescent Pdots, with a series of chlorins and bacteriochlorins with varying functional groups. Chlorins and bacteriochlorins are ideal dopants due to their high hydrophobicity, which precludes their use as molecular probes in aqueous biological media but on the other hand prevents their leakage when doped into Pdots. Additionally, chlorins and bacteriochlorins have narrow deep red to NIR-emission bands and the wide array of synthetic modifications available for modifying their molecular structure enables tuning their emission predictably and systematically. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and dynamic light scattering (DLS) measurements show the chlorin- and bacteriochlorin-doped Pdots to be nearly spherical with an average diameter of 46 ± 12 nm. Efficient energy transfer between PFBT and the doped chlorins or bacteriochlorins decreases the PFBT donor emission to near baseline level and increases the emission of the doped dyes that serve as acceptors. The chlorin- and bacteriochlorin-doped Pdots show narrow emission bands ranging from 640 to 820 nm depending on the doped dye. The paper demonstrates the utility of the systematic chlorin and bacteriochlorin synthesis approach by preparing Pdots of varying emission peak wavelength, utilizing them to visualize multiple targets using wide-field fluorescence microscopy, binding them to secondary antibodies, and determining the binding of secondary antibody-conjugated Pdots to primary antibody-labeled receptors in plant cells. Additionally, the chlorin- and bacteriochlorin-doped Pdots show a blinking behavior that could enable their use in super-resolution imaging methods like STORM.