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QD-Biopolymer-TSPP Assembly as Efficient BiFRET Sensor for Ratiometric and Visual Detection of Zinc Ion

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journal contribution
posted on 13.01.2017, 00:00 by Yuqian Liu, Xiaojun Qu, Qingsheng Guo, Qingjiang Sun, Xuebin Huang
In this work, we report a new type of quantum dot (QD)-based fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) assembly and its utility for sensing Zn2+ in different media. The assembly on the QD scaffold is via first coating of poly­(dA) homopolymer/double-stranded DNA, followed by loading of meso-tetra­(4-sulfonatophenyl)­porphine dihydrochloride (TSPP), both of which are electrostatic, offering the advantages of cost-efficiency and simplicity. More importantly, the biopolymer coating minimizes the interfacial thickness to be ≤2 nm for QD-TSPP FRET, which results in improvements of up to 60-fold for single FRET efficiency and nearly 4-fold for total FRET efficiency of the QD-biopolymer-TSPP assemblies in comparison with silica-coating-based QD-TSPP assemblies. On the basis of Zn2+-chelation-induced spectral modulation, dual-emission QD-poly­(dA)-TSPP assemblies are developed as a ratiometric Zn2+ sensor with increased sensitivity and specificity. The sensor either in solution or on a paper substrate displays continuous color changes from yellow to bright green toward Zn2+, exhibiting excellent visualization capability. By utilizing the competitive displacement of Zn2+, the sensor is also demonstrated to have good reversibility. Furthermore, the sensor is successfully used to visualize exogenous Zn2+ in living cells. Together the QD-biopolymer-TSPP assembly provides an inexpensive, sensitive, and reliable sensing platform not only for on-site analytical applications but also for high-resolution cellular imaging.