Gold Nanocluster Extracellular Vesicle Supraparticles: Self-Assembled Nanostructures for Three-Dimensional Uptake Visualization

Ulrike Kauscher, Jelle Penders, Anika Nagelkerke, Margaret N Holme, Valeria Nele, Lucia Massi, Sahana Gopal, Thomas E Whittaker, Molly M Stevens

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Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are secreted by the vast majority of cells and are being intensively studied due to their emerging involvement in a variety of cellular communication processes. However, the study of their cellular uptake and fate has been hampered by difficulty in imaging EVs against the cellular background. Here, we show that EVs combined with hydrophobic gold nanoclusters (AuNCs) can self-assemble into supraparticles, offering an excellent labeling strategy for high-resolution electron microscopic imaging in vitro. We have tracked and visualized the reuptake of breast cancer cell-derived EV AuNC supraparticles into their parent cells, from early endocytosis to lysosomal degradation, using focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM). The presence of gold within the EVs and lysosomes was confirmed via DF-STEM EDX analysis of lift-out sections. The demonstrated formation of AuNC EV supraparticles will facilitate future applications in EV imaging as well as the EV-assisted cellular delivery of AuNCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3912-3923
Number of pages12
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 14-Apr-2020

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