21. Ultra-Small, Highly Stable, and Sensitive Dual Nanosensors for Imaging Intracellular Oxygen and pH in Cytosol
We report on the first dual nanosensors for imaging of pH values and oxygen partial pressure in cells. The sensors have a unique nanostructure in that a soft core structure is rigidized with a silane reagent, while poly(ethylene glycol) chains form an outer shell. Lipophilic oxygen-sensitive probes and reference dyes are encapsulated inside the hydrophobic core, while a pHsensitive probe is covalently attached to the poly(ethylene glycol) end-group on the shell. The core/shell structure renders the nanosensors well dispersed and highly stable in various kinds of aqueous media. Their average size is 12 nm, and they respond to both pH and oxygen in the physiological range. They do not pass cell membranes, but can be internalized into the cellular cytosol by electroporation, upon which they enable sensing and imaging of pH values and oxygen with high spatial resolution. The nanosensor strategy shown here is expected to be applicable to the development of various other kinds of multiple nanosensors for in vivo studies.