Controlled Intracellular Release of Peptides from Microcapsules Enhances Antigen Presentation on MHC Class I Molecules



To understand the time course of action of any small molecule inside a single cell, one would deposit a defined amount inside the cell and initiate its activity at a defined moment. An elegant way to achieve this is to encapsulate the molecule in a micrometer-sized reservoir, introduce it into a cell, remotely open its wall by a laser pulse, and then follow the biological response by microscopy. The validity of this approach is validated here using microcapsules with defined walls that are doped with metallic nanoparticles so as to enable them to be opened with an infrared laser. The capsules are loaded with a fluorescent antigenic peptide and introduced into mammalian cultured cells where, upon laser-induced release, the peptide binds to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I proteins and elicits their cell surface transport. The concept of releasing a drug inside a cell and following its action is applicable to many problems in cell biology and medicine.