Investigation of endosome and lysosome biology by ultra pH-sensitive nanoprobes

Chensu Wang, Tian Zhao, Yang Li, Gang Huang, Michael A. White, Jinming Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Endosomes and lysosomes play a critical role in various aspects of cell physiology such as nutrient sensing, receptor recycling, protein/lipid catabolism, and cell death. In drug delivery, endosomal release of therapeutic payloads from nanocarriers is also important in achieving efficient delivery of drugs to reach their intracellular targets. Recently, we invented a library of ultra pH-sensitive (UPS) nanoprobes with exquisite fluorescence response to subtle pH changes. The UPS nanoprobes also displayed strong pH-specific buffer effect over small molecular bases with broad pH responses (e.g., chloroquine and NH4Cl). Tunable pH transitions from 7.4 to 4.0 of UPS nanoprobes cover the entire physiological pH of endocytic organelles (e.g., early and late endosomes) and lysosomes. These unique physico-chemical properties of UPS nanoprobes allowed a ‘detection and perturbation’ strategy for the investigation of luminal pH in cell signaling and metabolism, which introduces a nanotechnology-enabled paradigm for the biological studies of endosomes and lysosomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-96
Number of pages10
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
StatePublished - Apr 2017


  • Cell signaling
  • Endocytic organelles
  • Metabolomics
  • Organelle imaging
  • pH buffering
  • pH sensitive nanoprobes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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