A magnetic resonance tuning sensor for the MRI detection of biological targets

Tae Hyun Shin, Sunghwi Kang, Sohyeon Park, Jin sil Choi, Pan Ki Kim, Jinwoo Cheon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Sensors that detect specific molecules of interest in a living organism can be useful tools for studying biological functions and diseases. Here, we provide a protocol for the construction of nanosensors that can noninvasively detect biologically important targets with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The key operating principle of these sensors is magnetic resonance tuning (MRET), a distance-dependent phenomenon occurring between a superparamagnetic quencher and a paramagnetic enhancer. The change in distance between the two magnetic components modulates the longitudinal (T 1 ) relaxivity of the enhancer. In this MRET sensor, distance variation is achieved by interactive linkers that undergo binding, cleavage, or folding/unfolding upon their interaction with target molecules. By the modular incorporation of suitable linkers, the MRET sensor can be applied to a wide range of targets. We showcase three examples of MRET sensors for enzymes, nucleic acid sequences, and pH. This protocol comprises three stages: (i) chemical synthesis and surface modification of the quencher, (ii) conjugation with interactive linkers and enhancers, and (iii) MRI sensing of biological targets. The entire procedure takes up to 3 d.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2664-2684
Number of pages21
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank S. J. Kim. for helpful discussions and support. This work was supported by grants from the Institute for Basic Science (IBS-R026-D1) and the Korea Healthcare Technology R&D Project, Ministry for Health & Welfare Affairs (HI08C2149).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'A magnetic resonance tuning sensor for the MRI detection of biological targets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this