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Interactions Between Proteins and Carbon-Based Nanoparticles: Exploring the Origin of Nanotoxicity at the Molecular Level

Authors

  • Guanghong Zuo,

    1. Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, PO Box 800-204, Shanghai 201800, China
    2. T-Life Research Center, Department of Physics, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
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  • Seung-gu Kang,

    1. IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA
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  • Peng Xiu,

    1. Department of Engineering Mechanics and Soft Matter Research Center, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China
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  • Yuliang Zhao,

    Corresponding author
    1. Chinese Academy of Sciences Key Lab for Biomedical, Effects of Nanomaterials and Nanosafety, National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
    • Chinese Academy of Sciences Key Lab for Biomedical, Effects of Nanomaterials and Nanosafety, National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China.
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  • Ruhong Zhou

    Corresponding author
    1. IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA
    2. Department of Chemistry, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
    • IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA
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Abstract

The widespread application of nanomaterials has spurred an interest in the study of interactions between nanoparticles and proteins due to the biosafety concerns of these nanomaterials. In this review, a summary is presented of some of the recent studies on this important subject, especially on the interactions of proteins with carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and metallofullerenols. Two potential molecular mechanisms have been proposed for CNTs’ inhibition of protein functions. The driving forces of CNTs’ adsorption onto proteins are found to be mainly hydrophobic interactions and the so-called π–π stacking between CNTs’ carbon rings and proteins’ aromatic residues. However, there is also recent evidence showing that endohedral metallofullerenol Gd@C82(OH)22 can be used to inhibit tumor growth, thus acting as a potential nanomedicine. These recent findings have provided a better understanding of nanotoxicity at the molecular level and also suggested therapeutic potential by using nanoparticles’ cytotoxicity against cancer cells.

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