Epidermal growth factor receptor targeted nuclear delivery and high-resolution whole cell x-ray imaging of Fe3O4@TiO 2 nanoparticles in cancer cells

Ye Yuan, Si Chen, Tatjana Paunesku, Sophie Charlotte Gleber, William C. Liu, Caroline B. Doty, Rachel Mak, Junjing Deng, Qiaoling Jin, Barry Lai, Keith Brister, Claus Flachenecker, Chris Jacobsen, Stefan Vogt, Gayle E. Woloschak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Sequestration within the cytoplasm often limits the efficacy of therapeutic nanoparticles that have specific subcellular targets. To allow for both cellular and subcellular nanoparticle delivery, we have created epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-targeted Fe3O4@TiO2 nanoparticles that use the native intracellular trafficking of EGFR to improve internalization and nuclear translocation in EGFR-expressing HeLa cells. While bound to EGFR, these nanoparticles do not interfere with the interaction between EGFR and karyopherin-β, a protein that is critical for the translocation of ligand-bound EGFR to the nucleus. Thus, a portion of the EGFR-targeted nanoparticles taken up by the cells also reaches cell nuclei. We were able to track nanoparticle accumulation in cells by flow cytometry and nanoparticle subcellular distribution by confocal fluorescent microscopy indirectly, using fluorescently labeled nanoparticles. More importantly, we imaged and quantified intracellular nanoparticles directly, by their elemental signatures, using X-ray fluorescence microscopy at the Bionanoprobe, the first instrument of its kind in the world. The Bionanoprobe can focus hard X-rays down to a 30 nm spot size to map the positions of chemical elements tomographically within whole frozen-hydrated cells. Finally, we show that photoactivation of targeted nanoparticles in cell nuclei, dependent on successful EGFR nuclear accumulation, induces significantly more double-stranded DNA breaks than photoactivation of nanoparticles that remain exclusively in the cytoplasm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10502-10517
Number of pages16
JournalACS nano
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 23 2013


  • X-ray fluorescence microscopy
  • epidermal growth factor receptor
  • nanoparticles
  • photoactivation
  • titanium dioxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Epidermal growth factor receptor targeted nuclear delivery and high-resolution whole cell x-ray imaging of Fe<sub>3</sub>O<sub>4</sub>@TiO <sub>2</sub> nanoparticles in cancer cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this