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Quantum dots to monitor RNAi delivery and improve gene silencing

Nucleic Acids Research , Volume 33 (22): e190 – Jan 1, 2005


Oxford University Press
Copyright © 2010 Oxford University Press
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Quantum dots to monitor RNAi delivery and improve gene silencing


Abstract A critical issue in using RNA interference for identifying genotype/phenotype correlations is the uniformity of gene silencing within a cell population. Variations in transfection efficiency, delivery-induced cytotoxicity and ‘off target’ effects at high siRNA concentrations can confound the interpretation of functional studies. To address this problem, we have developed a novel method of monitoring siRNA delivery that combines unmodified siRNA with seminconductor quantum dots (QDs) as multi color biological probes. We co-transfected siRNA with QDs using standard transfection techniques, thereby leveraging the photostable fluorescent nanoparticles to track delivery of nucleic acid, sort cells by degree of transfection and purify homogenously-silenced subpopulations. Compared to alternative RNAi tracking methods (co-delivery of reporter plasmids and end-labeling the siRNA), QDs exhibit superior photostability and tunable optical properties for an extensive selection of non-overlapping colors. Thus this simple, modular system can be extended toward multiplexed gene knockdown studies, as demonstrated in a two color proof-of-principle study with two biological targets. When the method was applied to investigate the functional role of T-cadherin (T-cad) in cell–cell communication, a subpopulation of highly silenced cells obtained by QD labeling was required to observe significant downstream effects of gene knockdown. © The Author 2005. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved The online version of this article has been published under an open access model. Users are entitled to use, reproduce, disseminate, or display the open access version of this article for non-commercial purposes provided that: the original authorship is properly and fully attributed; the Journal and Oxford University Press are attributed as the original place of publication with the correct citation details given; if an article is subsequently reproduced or disseminated not in its entirety but only in part or as a derivative work this must be clearly indicated. For commercial re-use, please contact
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