Enhanced Cellular Uptake of H-Chain Human Ferritin Containing Gold Nanoparticles
Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) capped with biocompatible layers have functional optical, chemical, and biological properties as theranostic agents in biomedicine. The ferritin protein containing in situ synthesized AuNPs has been successfully used as an effective and completely biocompatible nanocarrier for AuNPs in human cell lines and animal experiments in vivo. Ferritin can be uptaken by different cell types through receptor-mediated endocytosis. Despite these advantages, few efforts have been made to evaluate the toxicity and cellular internalization of AuNP-containing ferritin nanocages. In this work, we study the potential of human heavy-chain (H) and light-chain (L) ferritin homopolymers as nanoreactors to synthesize AuNPs and their cytotoxicity and cellular uptake in different cell lines. The results show very low toxicity of ferritin-encapsulated AuNPs on different human cell lines and demonstrate that efficient cellular ferritin uptake depends on the specific H or L protein chains forming the ferritin protein cage and the presence or absence of metallic cargo. Cargo-devoid apoferritin is poorly internalized in all cell lines, and the highest ferritin uptake was achieved with AuNP-loaded H-ferritin homopolymers in transferrin-receptor-rich cell lines, showing more than seven times more uptake than apoferritin.
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