Early detection of cancer cells in a rapid and sensitive approach is one of the great challenges in modern clinical cancer care. This study has demonstrated the first example of a rapid, selective, and sensitive phosphorescence probe based on phosphorescence energy transfer (PET) for cancer-associated human NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase isozyme 1 (NQO1). An efficient room-temperature phosphorescence NQO1 probe was constructed by using Mn-doped ZnS quantum dots (Mn:ZnS QDs) as donors and trimethylquinone propionic acids as acceptors. Phosphorescence quenching of Mn:ZnS QDs from the Mn:ZnS QDs to a covalently bonded quinone was achieved through PET. Phosphorescence of Mn:ZnS QDs was turned on by the rapid reduction-initiated removal of the quinone quencher by NQO1. This probe shows low cellular toxicity and can rapidly distinguish between NQO1-expressing and -nonexpressing cancer cell lines through phosphorescence imaging.
- cancer cells
- phosphorescence energy transfer
- quantum dots
- room temperature phosphorescence