Background: Targeting stem cells holds great potential for studying the embryonic stem cell and development of stem cellbased regenerative medicine. Previous studies demonstrated that nanoparticles can serve as a robust platform for gene delivery, non-invasive cell imaging, and manipulation of stem cell differentiation. However specific targeting of embryonic stem cells by peptide-linked nanoparticles has not been reported. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here, we developed a method for screening peptides that specifically recognize rhesus macaque embryonic stem cells by phage display and used the peptides to facilitate quantum dot targeting of embryonic stem cells. Through a phage display screen, we found phages that displayed an APWHLSSQYSRT peptide showed high affinity and specificity to undifferentiated primate embryonic stem cells in an enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay. These results were subsequently confirmed by immunofluoresence microscopy. Additionally, this binding could be completed by the chemically synthesized APWHLSSQYSRT peptide, indicating that the binding capability was specific and conferred by the peptide sequence. Through the ligation of the peptide to CdSe-ZnS core-shell nanocrystals, we were able to, for the first time, target embryonic stem cells through peptide-conjugated quantum dots. Conclusions/Significance: These data demonstrate that our established method of screening for embryonic stem cell specific binding peptides by phage display is feasible. Moreover, the peptide-conjugated quantum dots may be applicable for embryonic stem cell study and utilization.
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