SERS nanosensors for intracellular redox potential measurements
Auchinvole, Craig Alexander R
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Redox regulation and homeostasis are critically important in the regulation of cell function; however, there are significant challenges in quantitatively measuring and monitoring intracellular redox potentials. The work in this thesis details a novel approach to intracellular redox monitoring. The approach is based on the use of nanosensors, which comprise molecules capable of sensing the local redox potential, assembled on gold nanoshells. Since the Raman spectra of the sensor molecules change depending on their oxidation state, and since the nanoshells allow a large enhancement of the Raman scattering, intracellular potential can be calculated by simple optical measurements. A full description of the design, fabrication and characterisation (spectroscopic and electrochemical) of the nanosensors is provided within. The ability to deliver nanosensors into cells in a controllable fashion was confirmed using electron microscopy. Results from a range of assays are also presented which reveal that introduction of nanosensors does not result in any cytotoxicity. Sensor utility in monitoring redox potentials as cells responded to physiological and superphysiological oxidative and reductive stimuli was investigated. Importantly, the capability of the nanosensors in monitoring intracellular potentials in a reversible, non-invasive manner, and over a previously unattainable potential range, is demonstrated.