Elucidating differential nano-bio interactions of multi-walled andsingle-walled carbon nanotubes using subcellular proteomics

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Understanding the relationship between adverse exposure events and specific material properties will facilitate predictive classification of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) according to their mechanisms of action, and a safe-by-design approach for the next generation of CNTs. Mass-spectrometry-based proteomics is a reliable tool to uncover the molecular dynamics of hazardous exposures, yet challenges persist with regards to its limited dynamic range when sampling whole organisms, tissues or cell lysates. Here, the simplicity of the sub-cellular proteome was harnessed to unravel distinctive adverse exposure outcomes at the molecular level, between two CNT subtypes. A549, MRC9 and human macrophage cells, were exposed for 24h to non-cytotoxic doses of single-walled or multi-walled CNTs (swCNTs or mwCNTs). Label-free proteomics on enriched cytoplasmic fractions was complemented with analyses of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and mitochondrial integrity. The extent/number of modulated proteoforms indicated the single-walled variant was more bioactive. Greater enrichment of pathways corresponding to oxido-reductive activity was consistent with greater intracellular ROS induction and mitochondrial dysfunction capacities of swCNTs. Other compromised cellular functions, as revealed by pathway analysis were; ribosome, spliceosome and DNA repair. Highly upregulated proteins (fold change in abundance >6) such as, APOC3, RBP4 and INS are also highlighted as potential markers of hazardous CNT exposure. We conclude that, changes in cytosolic proteome abundance resulting from nano-bio interactions, elucidate adverse response pathways and their distinctive molecular components. Our results indicate that CNT-protein interactions might have a thus far unappreciated significance for protein trafficking, and this warrants further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)554-570
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 3111 Biomedicine

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