Peripheral Membrane Proteins Facilitate Nanoparticle Binding at Lipid Bilayer Interfaces

August 13, 2018

Molecular understanding of the impact of nanomaterials on cell membranes is critical for the prediction of effects that span environmental exposures to nanoenabled therapies. Experimental and computational studies employing phospholipid bilayers as model systems for membranes have yielded important insights but lack the biomolecular complexity of actual membranes. Here, we increase model membrane complexity by incorporating the peripheral membrane protein cytochrome c and studying the interactions of the resulting membrane systems with two types of anionic nanoparticles. Experimental and computational studies reveal that the extent of cytochrome c binding to supported lipid bilayers depends on anionic phospholipid number density and headgroup chemistry. Gold nanoparticles functionalized with short, anionic ligands or wrapped with an anionic polymer do not interact with silica-supported bilayers composed solely of phospholipids. Strikingly, when cytochrome c was bound to these bilayers, nanoparticles functionalized with short anionic ligands attached to model biomembranes in amounts proportional to the number of bound cytochrome c molecules. In contrast, anionic polymer-wrapped gold nanoparticles appeared to remove cytochrome c from supported lipid bilayers in a manner inversely proportional to the strength of cytochrome c binding to the bilayer; this reflects the removal of a weakly bound pool of cytochrome c, as suggested by molecular dynamics simulations. These results highlight the importance of the surface chemistry of both the nanoparticle and the membrane in predicting nano-bio interactions.


Eric S. Melby, Caley Allen, Isabel U. Foreman-Ortiz, Emily R. Caudill, Thomas R. Kuech, Ariane M. Vartanian, Xi Zhang, Catherine J. Murphy, Rigoberto Hernandez and Joel A. Pedersen

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