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      QD-Based FRET Probes at a Glance


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          The unique optoelectronic properties of quantum dots (QDs) give them significant advantages over traditional organic dyes, not only as fluorescent labels for bioimaging, but also as emissive sensing probes. QD sensors that function via manipulation of fluorescent resonance energy transfer (FRET) are of special interest due to the multiple response mechanisms that may be utilized, which in turn imparts enhanced flexibility in their design. They may also function as ratiometric, or “color-changing” probes. In this review, we describe the fundamentals of FRET and provide examples of QD-FRET sensors as grouped by their response mechanisms such as link cleavage and structural rearrangement. An overview of early works, recent advances, and various models of QD-FRET sensors for the measurement of pH and oxygen, as well as the presence of metal ions and proteins such as enzymes, are also provided.

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          Most cited references117

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          Semiconductor nanocrystals were prepared for use as fluorescent probes in biological staining and diagnostics. Compared with conventional fluorophores, the nanocrystals have a narrow, tunable, symmetric emission spectrum and are photochemically stable. The advantages of the broad, continuous excitation spectrum were demonstrated in a dual-emission, single-excitation labeling experiment on mouse fibroblasts. These nanocrystal probes are thus complementary and in some cases may be superior to existing fluorophores.
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            Highly luminescent semiconductor quantum dots (zinc sulfide-capped cadmium selenide) have been covalently coupled to biomolecules for use in ultrasensitive biological detection. In comparison with organic dyes such as rhodamine, this class of luminescent labels is 20 times as bright, 100 times as stable against photobleaching, and one-third as wide in spectral linewidth. These nanometer-sized conjugates are water-soluble and biocompatible. Quantum dots that were labeled with the protein transferrin underwent receptor-mediated endocytosis in cultured HeLa cells, and those dots that were labeled with immunomolecules recognized specific antibodies or antigens.
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              Caspases: the executioners of apoptosis.

              Apoptosis is a major form of cell death, characterized initially by a series of stereotypic morphological changes. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the gene ced-3 encodes a protein required for developmental cell death. Since the recognition that CED-3 has sequence identity with the mammalian cysteine protease interleukin-1 beta-converting enzyme (ICE), a family of at least 10 related cysteine proteases has been identified. These proteins are characterized by almost absolute specificity for aspartic acid in the P1 position. All the caspases (ICE-like proteases) contain a conserved QACXG (where X is R, Q or G) pentapeptide active-site motif. Capases are synthesized as inactive proenzymes comprising an N-terminal peptide (prodomain) together with one large and one small subunit. The crystal structures of both caspase-1 and caspase-3 show that the active enzyme is a heterotetramer, containing two small and two large subunits. Activation of caspases during apoptosis results in the cleavage of critical cellular substrates, including poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and lamins, so precipitating the dramatic morphological changes of apoptosis. Apoptosis induced by CD95 (Fas/APO-1) and tumour necrosis factor activates caspase-8 (MACH/FLICE/Mch5), which contains an N-terminus with FADD (Fas-associating protein with death domain)-like death effector domains, so providing a direct link between cell death receptors and the caspases. The importance of caspase prodomains in the regulation of apoptosis is further highlighted by the recognition of adapter molecules, such as RAIDD [receptor-interacting protein (RIP)-associated ICH-1/CED-3-homologous protein with a death domain]/CRADD (caspase and RIP adapter with death domain), which binds to the prodomain of caspase-2 and recruits it to the signalling complex. Cells undergoing apoptosis following triggering of death receptors execute the death programme by activating a hierarchy of caspases, with caspase-8 and possibly caspase-10 being at or near the apex of this apoptotic cascade.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                Role: Academic Editor
                Role: Academic Editor
                Sensors (Basel)
                Sensors (Basel)
                Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)
                04 June 2015
                June 2015
                : 15
                : 6
                : 13028-13051
                Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Chicago, 845 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607-7061, USA; E-Mails: ashami2@ 123456uic.edu (A.S.); aashimag7@ 123456gmail.com (A.G.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: sneep@ 123456uic.edu ; Tel.: +1-312-413-2566; Fax: +1-312-996-0431.
                © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                : 08 April 2015
                : 22 May 2015

                Biomedical engineering
                semiconductor quantum dots,förster resonance energy transfer,optical sensors,photoluminescence


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