Microchimica Acta

, 186:479 | Cite as

Synthesis of DNA-templated copper nanoparticles with enhanced fluorescence stability for cellular imaging

  • Seokjoon Kim
  • Jung Ho Kim
  • Woo Young Kwon
  • Sung Hyun Hwang
  • Byung Seok Cha
  • Ji Min Kim
  • Seung Soo Oh
  • Ki Soo ParkEmail author
Original Paper


Fluorescence of DNA-templated copper nanoparticles (DNA-CuNPs) is not stable over time which limits applications in cellular imaging. This is due to the presence of oxygen during synthesis which oxidizes Cu(0) to Cu(II) and also produces the free hydroxyl radical. The authors have prepared DNA-CuNPs with enhanced temporal stability of fluorescence by optimizing the reaction conditions so as to minimize the deleterious effects of oxygen. The operational lifetime of DNA-CuNPs was increased from 25 min to 200 min. Fluorescence spectra of DNA-CuNPs in optimized condition show an emission peak at 650 nm when excited at 340 nm. DNA-CuNPs synthesized in this manner were used for cell imaging. As a proof of concept, the nucleus of a human colon cell line (HCT116) was stained. The method does not involve any chemicals other that copper sulfate and ascorbate. This new approach for generating DNA-CuNPs improves imaging of biological processes and provides a basis for developing other types of DNA-templated nanomaterials.

Graphical abstract

Schematic presentation of the formation of fluorescent DNA-templated copper nanoparticles (DNA-CuNPs). A large amount of ascorbate provides long operational lifetime for cellular imaging under the condition exposed to oxygen. *Asc and **DHA stand for ascorbate and dehydroascorbic acid.


DNA-CuNPs Hydroxyl radical Biological imaging Ascorbate Colon cancer cell Oxygen Copper sulfate 



This paper was supported by Konkuk University in 2018.

Compliance with ethical standards

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2019_3620_MOESM1_ESM.doc (749 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 749 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological Engineering, College of EngineeringKonkuk UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringPohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)PohangRepublic of Korea

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