SERS nanosensors that report pH of endocytic compartments during Fc?RI transit.
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Recently, the development of an IgE receptor (Fc?RI)-targeted, pH-sensitive, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) nanosensor has been demonstrated by Nowak-Lovato and Rector (Appl Spectrosc 63:387-395, 2009). The targeted nanosensor enables spatial and temporal pH measurements as internalized receptors progress through endosomal compartments in live cells. Trafficking of receptor-bound nanosensors was compared at physiological temperature (37 °C) versus room temperature (25 °C). As expected, we observed markedly slower progression of receptors through low-pH endocytic compartments at the lower temperature. We also demonstrate the utility of the nanosensors to measure directly changes in the pH of intracellular compartments after treatment with bafilomycin or amiloride. We report an increase in endosome compartment pH after treatment with bafilomycin, an H(+) ATPase pump inhibitor. Decreased endosomal luminal pH was measured in cells treated with amiloride, an inhibitor of Na(+)/H(+) exchange. The decrease in amiloride-treated cells was transient, followed by a recovery period of approximately 15-20 min to restore endosomal pH. These experiments demonstrate the novel application of Raman spectroscopy to monitor local pH environment in live cells with the use of targeted SERS nanosensors.