Nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) combined with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) can be a powerful approach to visualize the exact distribution of drugs at the sub-cellular level. In this work, we exploit this approach to identify the distribution and localisation of the organometallic ruthenium(II)-arene drug Ru(η6-C6H5Me)(pta)Cl2, termed RAPTA-T, in MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. These cell lines have been chosen because the former cell lines are highly invasive and resistant to most chemotherapeutic agents and the latter ones are very sensitive to hormonal-based therapies. In the MDA-MB-231 cells, RAPTA-T was found to predominantly localise on the cell membrane and to a lesser extent in the nucleolus. These findings are consistent with the previously reported anti-metastatic properties of RAPTA-T and the observation that once internalized RAPTA-T is associated with chromatin. RAPTA-T shows a lack of membrane accumulation on the non-invasive MCF-7 cells, which correlates well with its selective anti-metastatic properties on invasive cell lines.
- Breast cancer