Recent advances in fluorescent metal nanoclusters have spurred tremendous interest in nanomedicine due to the ease of fabrication, excellent biocompatibility, and, more importantly, excellent wavelength-dependent tunability. Herein, we report our findings on fluorescent BSA-protected gold nanoclusters (AuNCs), ∼2 nm in size conjugated with Herceptin (AuNCs-Her), for specific targeting and nuclear localization in ErbB2 over-expressing breast cancer cells and tumor tissue as a novel fluorescent agent for simultaneous imaging and cancer therapy. More interestingly, we found that AuNCs-Her could escape the endolysosomal pathway and enter the nucleus of cancer cells to enhance the therapeutic efficacy of Herceptin. We elucidate the diffusion characteristics (diffusion time and number of diffusers) and concentration of the fluorescing clusters in the nucleus of live cells. Our findings also suggest that the nuclear localization effect of AuNCs-Her enhances the anticancer therapeutic efficacy of Herceptin as evidenced by the induction of DNA damage. This study not only discusses a new nanomaterial platform for nuclear delivery of drugs but also provides important insights on nuclear targeting for enhanced therapy.
- DNA damage
- gold nanoclusters
- HER2 targeting
- nuclear nanomedicine
- single particle characterization