• Open Access

Small-Molecule-Based Nanoassemblies as Inducible Nanoprobes for Monitoring Dynamic Molecular Interactions Inside Live Cells


  • We thank R. Y. Tsien (University of California at San Diego, USA) for the mRFP cDNA, J. Choe (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) for the IκBα cDNA, and J.A. Schmid (Medical University Vienna, Austria) for the EYFP-RelA cDNA. This work was supported by grants from the KRIBB Research Initiative Program, the KRCF, the Pioneer Research Program for Converging Technology, and the functional proteomics and the stem cell research centers of the 21st Century Frontier Research Programs of the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.


original image

Seeing into cells: Genetically engineered, labeled ferritin is used to form biological nanoparticles displaying bait (B) and prey (P) molecules inside cells (see picture). Specific bait–prey interactions induce the interconnected assembly of nanoparticles into nanoclusters on a timescale of seconds. This phenotypic readout with a small molecule as an inducible switch was used to directly visualize dynamic molecular interactions within living cells.