Plasmonic activation of gold nanorods for remote stimulation of calcium signaling and protein expression in HEK 293T cells

Sandra P. Sanchez-Rodriguez, Jeremy P. Sauer, Sarah A. Stanley, Xi Qian, Andrew Gottesdiener, Jeffrey M. Friedman, Jonathan S. Dordick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Remote activation of specific cells of a heterogeneous population can provide a useful research tool for clinical and therapeutic applications. Here, we demonstrate that photostimulation of gold nanorods (AuNRs) using a tunable near-infrared (NIR) laser at specific longitudinal surface plasmon resonance wavelengths can induce the selective and temporal internalization of calcium in HEK 293T cells. Biotin-PEG-Au nanorods coated with streptavidin Alexa Fluor-633 and biotinylated anti-His antibodies were used to decorate cells genetically modified with His-tagged TRPV1 temperature-sensitive ion channel and AuNRs conjugated to biotinylated RGD peptide were used to decorate integrins in unmodified cells. Plasmonic activation can be stimulated at weak laser power (0.7-4.0W/cm2) without causing cell damage. Selective activation of TRPV1 channels could be controlled by laser power between 1.0 and 1.5W/cm2. Integrin targeting robustly stimulated calcium signaling due to a dense cellular distribution of nanoparticles. Such an approach represents a functional tool for combinatorial activation of cell signaling in heterogeneous cell populations. Our results suggest that it is possible to induce cell activation via NIR-induced gold nanorod heating through the selective targeting of membrane proteins in unmodified cells to produce calcium signaling and downstream expression of specific genes with significant relevance for both in vitro and therapeutic applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
StateAccepted/In press - 2016


  • Calcium signaling
  • Combinatorial activation
  • Gold nanorods
  • Integrins
  • TRPV1 ion channel

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


Dive into the research topics of 'Plasmonic activation of gold nanorods for remote stimulation of calcium signaling and protein expression in HEK 293T cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this