A single-molecule approach to explore binding, uptake and transport of cancer cell targeting nanotubes.

Constanze Lamprecht, Birgit Plochberger, Verena Ruprecht, Stefan Wieser, Christian Rankl, Elena Heister, Barbara Unterauer, Mario Brameshuber, Jürgen Danzberger, Emmanuel Flahaut, Gerhard Schütz, Peter Hinterdorfer, Andreas Ebner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


In the past decade carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been widely studied as a potential drug-delivery system, especially with functionality for cellular targeting. Yet, little is known about the actual process of docking to cell receptors and transport dynamics after internalization. Here we performed single-particle studies of folic acid (FA) mediated CNT binding to human carcinoma cells and their transport inside the cytosol. In particular, we employed molecular recognition force spectroscopy, an atomic force microscopy based method, to visualize and quantify docking of FA functionalized CNTs to FA binding receptors in terms of binding probability and binding force. We then traced individual fluorescently labeled, FA functionalized CNTs after specific uptake, and created a dynamic 'roadmap' that clearly showed trajectories of directed diffusion and areas of nanotube confinement in the cytosol. Our results demonstrate the potential of a single-molecule approach for investigation of drug-delivery vehicles and their targeting capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125704
Pages (from-to)125704
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2014


  • AFM
  • carbon nanotubes
  • force spectroscopy
  • molecular recognition
  • particle tracking
  • Humans
  • Folic Acid/chemistry
  • Nanotubes, Carbon/chemistry
  • Nocodazole/pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Drug Delivery Systems/methods
  • Cytosol/pathology


Dive into the research topics of 'A single-molecule approach to explore binding, uptake and transport of cancer cell targeting nanotubes.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this