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We describe a method to generate monovalent quantum dots (QDs) using agarose gel electrophoresis. We passivated QDs with a carboxy-terminated polyethylene-glycol ligand, yielding particles with half the diameter of commercial QDs, which we conjugated to a single copy of a high-affinity targeting moiety (monovalent streptavidin or antibody to carcinoembryonic antigen) to label cell-surface proteins. The small size improved access of QD-labeled glutamate receptors to neuronal synapses, and monovalency prevented EphA3 tyrosine kinase activation.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Methods

Publication Date





397 - 399


Animals, Carcinoembryonic Antigen, Cell Survival, Cells, Cells, Cultured, Electrophoresis, Agar Gel, Fluorescent Dyes, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Ligands, Nanotechnology, Polyethylene Glycols, Quantum Dots, Rats, Receptors, Cell Surface, Receptors, Glutamate, Staining and Labeling, Streptavidin, Synapses