Metal-induced energy transfer (MIET) Imaging of cell surface engineering with multivalent DNA nanobrushes


Wang DX, Liu B, Han GM, Kong DM, Enderlein J, Chen T


ACS Nano


ACS Nano. 2024 Jan 17.


The spacing between cells has a significant impact on cell–cell interactions, which are critical to the fate and function of both individual cells and multicellular organisms. However, accurately measuring the distance between cell membranes and the variations between different membranes has proven to be a challenging task. In this study, we employ metal-induced energy transfer (MIET) imaging/spectroscopy to determine and track the intermembrane distance and variations with nanometer precision. We have developed a DNA-based molecular adhesive called the DNA nanobrush, which serves as a cellular adhesive for connecting the plasma membranes of different cells. By manipulating the number of base pairs within the DNA nanobrush, we can modify various aspects of membrane–membrane interactions such as adhesive directionality, distance, and forces. We demonstrate that such nanometer-level changes can be detected with MIET imaging/spectroscopy. Moreover, we successfully employed MIET to measure distance variations between a cellular plasma membrane and a model membrane. This experiment not only showcases the effectiveness of MIET as a powerful tool for accurately quantifying membrane–membrane interactions but also validates the potential of DNA nanobrushes as cellular adhesives. This innovative method holds significant implications for advancing the study of multicellular interactions.


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