Exosomes are cellular components with promising uses in cancer diagnostics and therapeutics, and their imaging and tracking are essential to study their biological properties. Herein, we report on an in situ one-step fluorescence labeling strategy for exosomes via bioorthogonal click chemistry. First, exosome donor cancer cells were treated with tetraacetylated N-azidoacetyl-d-mannosamine (Ac4ManNAz) to generate unnatural azide groups (-N3) on their surface via metabolic glycoengineering. Then, the azide groups were labeled with near-infrared fluorescent dye-conjugated dibenzylcyclooctyne (DBCO-Cy5) via bioorthogonal click chemistry. After 2 days of incubation, the DBCO-Cy5-labeled exosomes (Cy5-Exo) were successfully secreted from the donor cancer cells and were isolated via classical ultracentrifugation, providing a high-yield of fluorescent dye-labeled exosomes. This in situ one-step bioorthogonal click chemistry offers improved labeling efficiency, biocompatibility, and imaging sensitivy compared to standard exosomes (ST-Exo), purified with classical ultracentrifugation or carbocyanine lipophilic dye (DiD)-labeled exosomes (DiD-Exo) in vitro. In particular, the Cy5-Exo were successfully taken up by A549 cells in a time-dependent manner, and they could escape from lysosome confinement, showing their possible use as a delivery carrier of therapeutic drugs or imaging agents. Finally, intraveneously injected Cy5-Exo were noninvasively tracked and imaged via near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging in tumor-bearing mice. This new fluorescence labeling strategy for natural exosomes may be useful to provide better understanding of their theranostic effects in many biomedical applications.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported from the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Korea, funded by the Ministry of Science (NRF-2019R1A2C3006283) of Republic of Korea, the KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology (Korea University), and the Intramural Research Program of KIST.
© 2020 American Chemical Society.