Synthesis of cationized magnetoferritin for ultra-fast magnetization of cells

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Many important biomedical applications, such as cell imaging and remote manipulation, can be achieved by labeling cells with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs). Achieving sufficient cellular uptake of SPIONs is a challenge that has traditionally been met by exposing cells to elevated concentrations of SPIONs or by prolonging exposure times (up to 72 hr). However, these strategies are likely to mediate toxicity. Here, we present the synthesis of the protein-based SPION magnetoferritin as well as a facile surface functionalization protocol that enables rapid cell magnetization using low exposure concentrations. The SPION core of magnetoferritin consists of cobalt-doped iron oxide with an average particle diameter of 8.2 nm mineralized inside the cavity of horse spleen apo-ferritin. Chemical cationization of magnetoferritin produced a novel, highly membrane-active SPION that magnetized human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) using incubation times as short as one minute and iron concentrations as lows as 0.2 mM.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54785
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number118
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2016


  • Bioengineering
  • Cationization
  • Issue 118
  • Magnetic cell separation
  • Magnetic labeling
  • Magnetic nanoparticles
  • Magnetoferritin
  • Protein cage
  • Stem cells
  • Surface functionalization


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