Recent advances in the field of bionanotechnology have enabled researchers to design a variety of tools to detect, image and monitor biological process in cells. Despite this progress, the limited understanding of nanomaterial-cellular interactions has hindered the widespread use of these nanomaterials in biological systems. In this thesis, we examined the potential effects of metallic nanoparticle geometry on important cellular processes such as membrane trafficking, intracellular transport and subcellular signalling. We found that the size of nanoparticles plays an important role on their ability to interact with the cell surface receptors thus dictating their subsequent ability to activate intracellular signalling cascades. Interestingly, trafficking of these nanoparticles was dependent on their size due to biochemical and thermodynamical constraints. These findings suggest that nanomaterials actively interact with biological systems, thus, directly modulating vital cellular processes.
In addition, by utilizing various physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials, we developed a novel class of hybrid nanoscaled carrier systems capable of delivering semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) into live cells without inducing membrane damage. Using biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles, bioconjugated QDs were encapsulated and delivered into trafficking vesicles of live cells. The environmentally sensitive surface charge of the polymeric nanoparticles exhibited positive zeta potential inside acidic endo-lysosomes, thus enabling their escape from the vesicular sequestration into the cytosol. Hydrolytic-induced degradation then releases the bioconjugate QDs for active labelling of subcellular structures for real-time studies. Unlike previously described intracellular QD delivery methods, the proposed system offers an efficient way to non-invasively deliver bioconjugated QDs without inducing cell damage, enabling researchers to accurately monitor cellular processes in real-time.
The understanding of both physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials is crucial to the design of biocompatible nanosystems to study fundamental processes in biological systems. Here, we demonstrated that both the size and surface chemistry of nanoparticles can be modified to obtain desired biological responses. Future experimental efforts to study other physical and chemical properties could allow the development of more sophisticated and effective platforms for biological applications.
|Date||24 September 2009|
|Creators||Kim, Betty Y. S.|
|Contributors||Chan, Warren C. W., Rutka, James T.|
|Source Sets||University of Toronto|
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