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    The ability to image single molecules in living cells has been impaired by the absence of bright, photostable fluorophores. Quantum dots (QDs) offer an attractive solution to this problem due to their exceptional photostability and brightness. Here, we describe in detail a protocol to chemically deliver functionalized QDs into the cytosol of living cells, based on cell-penetrating poly(disulfide)s (CPDs). This protocol is highly efficient and delivers hundreds of QDs per cell after incubation of cells with functionalized QDs at nanomolar concentrations. We also detail a pipeline for automated detection and tracking of diffusive QDs in living cells, which may provide a useful means to study the biophysical properties of the cytosol and their dynamics. Last, we describe a protocol for conjugating streptavidin fusion proteins to QDs, in order to permit the codelivery of QDs with functional proteins of interest into cells. The protocol has been successfully applied to a broad range of different cell types, thus offering a flexible and generalizable means to image single molecules in living cells.


    Joseph L Watson, Alessandra Stangherlin, Emmanuel Derivery. Quantitative Chemical Delivery of Quantum Dots into the Cytosol of Cells. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2020;2135:179-197

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    PMID: 32246335

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