Endosomes, lysosomes and related catabolic organelles are a dynamic continuum of vacuolar structures that impact a number of cell physiological processes such as protein/lipid metabolism, nutrient sensing and cell survival. Here we develop a library of ultra-pH-sensitive fluorescent nanoparticles with chemical properties that allow fine-scale, multiplexed, spatio-temporal perturbation and quantification of catabolic organelle maturation at single organelle resolution to support quantitative investigation of these processes in living cells. Deployment in cells allows quantification of the proton accumulation rate in endosomes; illumination of previously unrecognized regulatory mechanisms coupling pH transitions to endosomal coat protein exchange; discovery of distinct pH thresholds required for mTORC1 activation by free amino acids versus proteins; broad-scale characterization of the consequence of endosomal pH transitions on cellular metabolomic profiles; and functionalization of a context-specific metabolic vulnerability in lung cancer cells. Together, these biological applications indicate the robustness and adaptability of this nanotechnology-enabled â detection and perturbation ' strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8524
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Oct 5 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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