Date of Graduation

Summer 2017


Master of Science in Chemistry


Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Chair

Katye Fichter


This work aims to develop functionalized, water-soluble indium-based quantum dots (QDs) as a non-viral gene therapy vector. The QDs were solubilized in water by exchanging native hydrophobic surface ligands with 11-mercaptoundecanioc acid (MUA); an amphiphilic ligand providing terminal carboxylate groups that impart water solubility to the QDs. The aqueous QDs were then functionalized with a terminal tertiary amine to impart a positive surface charge, allowing negatively-charged DNA to complex with the nanoparticles. The QDs were characterized via electrophoresis to determine their ability to bind DNA. Results show that further work is needed to optimize DNA binding. In addition, this work explores QD bioconjugation with lactose as an intracellular targeting molecule, to direct QD complexes to the cellular nucleus. Conjugation with lactose was confirmed via nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. QD probes trafficking in N2a (mouse neuroblastoma) cells was visualized using fluorescence microscopy and immunocytochemistry (ICC). The images were analyzed via Manders’ coefficient to determine the degree of QD colocalization with different organelles inside the cell. Results proved inconclusive due to instrumental limitations.


quantum dots, gene therapy, bioconjugation, fluorescence microscopy, confocal microscopy

Subject Categories

Biochemistry | Other Chemistry


© Nicholas A. Mundt

Open Access