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Keywords:

  • quantum dots;
  • stem cells;
  • development;
  • central nervous system

Abstract

Fluorescent semiconductor nanocrystal quantum dots (QDs) are a class of multifunctional inorganic fluorophores that hold great promise for clinical applications and biomedical research. Because no methods currently exist for directed QD-labeling of mammalian cells in the nervous system in vivo, we developed novel in utero electroporation and ultrasound-guided in vivo delivery techniques to efficiently and directly label neural stem and progenitor cells (NSPCs) of the developing mammalian central nervous system with QDs. Our initial safety and proof of concept studies of one and two-cell QD-labeled mouse embryos reveal that QDs are compatible with early mammalian embryonic development. Our in vivo experiments further show that in utero labeled NSPCs continue to develop in an apparent normal manner. These studies reveal that QDs can be effectively used to label mammalian NSPCs in vivo and will be useful for studies of in vivo fate mapping, cellular migration, and NSPC differentiation during mammalian development. Developmental Dynamics 236:3393–3401, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.