DNA mediated assembly of quantum dot–protoporphyrin IX FRET probes and the effect of FRET efficiency on ROS generation†
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) involves generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by the irradiation of a photosensitizer. Controlled and targeted release of ROS by a photosensitizer is crucial in PDT. For achieving controlled generation of ROS, a ZnSe/ZnS quantum dot (QD) donor and protoporphyrin IX (Pp IX) acceptor based fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) probe is reported here. The QDs and Pp IX are assembled either by direct conjugation or through DNA hybridization. Complementary DNA strands are individually conjugated to the QDs and Pp IX by amide coupling. Due to the overlap of the emission spectrum of QDs and the absorption spectrum of Pp IX, efficient transfer of energy from QDs to Pp IX was observed in both the cases. The FRET efficiency was quantitatively evaluated by steady-state and time-resolved spectroscopy and compared between the QD–Pp IX direct conjugate and QD–DNA–Pp IX assembly at various donor to acceptor ratios. Since a single QD can harbor a multiple number of Pp IX–DNA counterparts through DNA hybridization, the FRET efficiency was found to increase with the increase in the number of Pp IX acceptors. ROS generation from Pp IX was studied for the FRET pairs and was found to be affected by the irradiation time of the QD donor.