Multiplexing Angiogenic Receptor Quantification via Quantum Dots

Si Chen, P I Imoukhuede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clinical and biomedical research seeks single-cell quantification to better understand their roles in a complex, multicell environment. Recently, quantification of vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFRs) provided important insights into endothelial cell characteristics and response in tumor microenvironments. However, existing technologies for quantifying plasma membrane receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) lack multiplexing capabilities, limiting detailed characterization. Here, we use the unique spectral properties of quantum dots (Qdots) to optimize and dually quantify VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). To enable this quantification, we reduce nonspecific binding between Qdot-conjugated antibodies and cells via buffer optimization. Second, we identify optimal labeling conditions by examining Qdot-conjugated antibody binding to five receptors: VEGFRs (VEGFR1 and VEGFR2), their coreceptor neuropilin1 (NRP1), and platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFRα and PDGFRβ). We establish that 800-20 000 is the dynamic range where accurate Qdot-enabled quantification can be achieved. Through these optimizations, we demonstrate measurement of 1 100 VEGFR1 and 6 900 VEGFR2 per HUVEC. We induce ∼90% upregulation of VEGFR1 and ∼30% downregulation of VEGFR2 concentration via 24 h VEGF-A165 treatment. We observe no change in VEGFR1 or VEGFR2 concentration with 24 h VEGF-B167 treatment. We further apply Qdots to analyze HUVEC heterogeneity and observe that 24 h VEGF-A165 treatment induces a ∼15% decrease in VEGFR2 heterogeneity, but little to no change in VEGFR1 heterogeneity. We observe that VEGF-B167 induces little to no change in either VEGFR1 or VEGFR2 heterogeneity. Overall, we demonstrate experimental and analytical strategies for quantifying two or more RTKs at single-level using Qdots, which will help provide new insights into biological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7603-7612
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 18 2019


  • Antibodies, Immobilized/chemistry
  • Down-Regulation/drug effects
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Quantum Dots/chemistry
  • Receptors, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor/analysis
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A/pharmacology
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1/immunology
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2/immunology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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