Focal activation of cells by plasmon resonance assisted optical injection of signaling molecules

Gabriel V. Orsinger, Joshua D. Williams, Marek Romanowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Experimental methods for single cell intracellular delivery are essential for probing cell signaling dynamics within complex cellular networks, such as those making up the tumor microenvironment. Here, we show a quantitative and general method of interrogation of signaling pathways. We applied highly focused near-infrared laser light to optically inject gold-coated liposomes encapsulating bioactive molecules into single cells for focal activation of cell signaling. For this demonstration, we encapsulated either inositol trisphosphate (IP3), an endogenous cell signaling second messenger, or adenophostin A (AdA), a potent analogue of IP, within 100 nm gold-coated liposomes, and injected these gold-coated liposomes and their contents into the cytosol of single ovarian carcinoma cells to initiate calcium (Ca2+) release from intracellular stores. Upon optical injection of IP3 or AdA at doses above the activation threshold, we observed increases in cytosolic Ca 2+ concentration within the injected cell initiating the propagation of a Ca2+ wave throughout nearby cells. As confirmed by octanol-induced inhibition, the intercellular Ca2+ wave traveled via gap junctions. Optical injection of gold-coated liposomes represents a quantitative method of focal activation of signaling cascades of broad interest in biomedical research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6151-6162
Number of pages12
JournalACS Nano
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 24 2014


  • calcium signaling
  • focal activation
  • gold
  • liposomes
  • nanoparticles
  • optical trap
  • plasmon resonance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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