Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
exploiting-directed-self-assembly-and-disassembly-for-off-to-on-fluorescence-responsive-live-cell-imaging.pdf (1.06 MB)

Exploiting directed self-assembly and disassembly for off-to-on fluorescence responsive live cell imaging

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posted on 2023-04-21, 13:16 authored by Niamh CurtinNiamh Curtin, Massimiliano GarreMassimiliano Garre, Jean-Baptiste Bodin, Nicolas Solem, Rachel Meallet-Renault, Donal O'SheaDonal O'Shea

 A bio-responsive nanoparticle was formed by the directed self-assembly (DSA) of a hydrophobic NIR-fluorophore with poloxamer P188. Fluorophore emission was switched off when part of the nanoparticle, however upon stimulus induced nanoparticle dis-assembly the emission switched on. The emission quenching was shown to be due to fluorophore hydration and aggregation within the nanoparticle and the turn on response attributable to nanoparticle disassembly with embedding of the fluorophore within lipophilic environments. This was exploited for temporal and spatial live cell imaging with a measurable fluorescence response seen upon intracellular delivery of the fluorophore. The first dynamic response, seen within minutes, was from lipid droplets with other lipophilic regions such as the endoplasmic reticulum, nuclear membranes and secretory vacuoles imageable after hours. The high degree of fluorophore photostability facilitated continuous imaging for extended periods and the off to on switching facilitated the real-time observation of lipid droplet biogenesis as they emerged from the endoplasmic reticulum. With an in-depth understanding of the principles involved, further assembly controlling functional responses could be anticipated. 


Irish Government Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation’s Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund and Science Foundation Ireland grant number AMBER 12/RC/2278 P2

RCSI Apjohn Fellowship

Science Foundation Ireland (18/RI/5723)



The original article is available at Published version is available in RSC Advances and RCSI repository

Published Citation

Curtin N, Garre M, Bodin JB, Solem N, Méallet-Renault R, O'Shea DF. Exploiting directed self-assembly and disassembly for off-to-on fluorescence responsive live cell imaging. ChemRxiv. 2023

Publication Date

30 November 2022


  • Chemistry

Research Area

  • Cancer
  • Surgical Science and Practice
  • Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences


American Chemical Society (ACS)


  • Submitted Version (Preprint)