The inability to spatiotemporally guide proteins in tissues and efficiently deliver them into cells remains a key barrier to realizing their full potential in precision medicine. Here, we report ultrasound-sensitive fluoro-protein nanoemulsions which can be acoustically tracked, guided, and activated for on-demand cytosolic delivery of proteins, including antibodies, using clinically relevant diagnostic ultrasound. This advance is accessed through the discovery of a family of fluorous tags, or FTags, that transiently mask proteins to mediate their efficient dispersion into ultrasound-sensitive liquid perfluorocarbons, a phenomenon akin to dissolving an egg in liquid Teflon. We identify the biochemical basis for protein fluorous masking and confirm FTag coatings are shed during delivery, without disrupting the protein structure or function. Harnessing the ultrasound sensitivity of fluorous emulsions, real-time imaging is used to simultaneously monitor and activate FTag-protein complexes to enable controlled cytosolic antibody delivery in vitro and in vivo. These findings may advance the development of image-guided, protein-based biosensing and therapeutic modalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4061-4073
Number of pages13
JournalACS nano
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 28 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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