The ability to efficiently visualize protein targets in cells is a fundamental goal in biological research. Recently, quantum dots (QDots) have emerged as a powerful class of fluorescent probes for labeling membrane proteins in living cells because of breakthrough advances in QDot surface chemistry and biofunctionalization strategies. This review discusses the increasing use of QDots for fluorescence imaging of neuronal receptors and transporters. The readers are briefly introduced to QDot structure, photophysical properties, and common synthetic routes toward the generation of water-soluble QDots. The following section highlights several reports of QDot application that seek to unravel molecular aspects of neuronal receptor and transporter regulation and trafficking. This article is closed with a prospectus of the future of derivatized QDots in neurobiological and pharmacological research.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.