Intracellular Dynamic Assembly of Deep‐Red Emitting Supramolecular Nanostructures Based on the Pt…Pt Metallophilic Interaction
Many drug delivery systems end up in the lysosome because they are built from covalent or kinetically inert supramolecular bonds. To reach other organelles, nanoparticles hence need to either be made from a kinetically labile interaction that allows re-assembly of the nanoparticles inside the cell following endocytic uptake, or, be taken up by a mechanism that short-circuits the classical endocytosis pathway. In this work, the intracellular fate of nanorods that self-assemble via the Pt…Pt interaction of cyclometalated platinum(II) compounds, is studied. These deep-red emissive nanostructures (638 nm excitation, ≈700 nm emission) are stabilized by proteins in cell medium. Once in contact with cancer cells, they cross the cell membrane via dynamin- and clathrin-dependent endocytosis. However, time-dependent confocal colocalization and cellular electron microscopy demonstrate that they directly move to mitochondria without passing by the lysosomes. Altogether, this study suggests that Pt…Pt interaction is strong enough to generate emissive, aggregated nanoparticles inside cells, but labile enough to allow these nanostructures to reach the mitochondria without being trapped in the lysosomes. These findings open new venues to the development of bioimaging nanoplatforms based on the Pt…Pt interaction.