Dynamic alteration of poroelastic attributes as determinant membrane nanorheology for endocytosis of organ specific targeted gold nanoparticles

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Background: Efficacy of targeted drug delivery using nanoparticles relies on several factors including the uptake mechanisms such as phagocytosis, macropinocytosis, micropinocytosis and receptor mediated endocytosis. These mechanisms have been studied with respect to the alteration in signaling mechanisms, cellular morphology, and linear nanomechanical properties (NMPs). Commonly employed classical contact mechanics models to address cellular NMPs fail to address mesh like structure consisting of bilayer lipids and proteins of cell membrane. To overcome this technical challenge, we employed poroelastic model which accounts for the biphasic nature of cells including their porous behavior exhibiting both solid like (fluid storage) and liquid like (fluid dissipate) behavior. Results: In this study, we employed atomic force microscopy to monitor the influence of surface engineering of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) to the alteration of nonlinear NMPs such as drained Poisson’s ratio, effective shear stress, diffusion constant and pore dimensions of cell membranes during their uptake. Herein, we used pancreatic cancer (PDAC) cell lines including Panc1, AsPC-1 and endothelial cell (HUVECs) to understand the receptor-dependent and -independent endocytosis of two different GNPs derived using plectin-1 targeting peptide (PTP-GNP) and corresponding scrambled peptide (sPEP-GNP). Compared to untreated cells, in case of receptor dependent endocytosis of PTP-GNPs diffusion coefficient altered ~ 1264-fold and ~ 1530-fold and pore size altered ~ 320-fold and ~ 260-fold in Panc1 and AsPC-1 cells, respectively. Whereas for receptor independent mechanisms, we observed modest alteration in diffusion coefficient and pore size, in these cells compared to untreated cells. Effective shear stress corresponding to 7.38 ± 0.15 kPa and 20.49 ± 0.39 kPa in PTP-GNP treatment in Panc1 and AsPC-1, respectively was significantly more than that for sPEP-GNP. These results demonstrate that with temporal recruitment of plectin-1 during receptor mediated endocytosis affects the poroelastic attributes of the membrane. Conclusion: This study confirms that nonlinear NMPs of cell membrane are directly associated with the uptake mechanism of nanoparticles and can provide promising insights of the nature of endocytosis mechanism involved for organ specific drug delivery using nanoparticles. Hence, nanomechanical analysis of cell membrane using this noninvasive, label-free and live-cell analytical tool can therefore be instrumental to evaluate therapeutic benefit of nanoformulations. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number74
JournalJournal of Nanobiotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Diffusion coefficient
  • Drained Poisson’s ratio
  • Effective shear stress
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Plectin-1 targeting
  • Pore size and Real-time membrane dynamics
  • Poroelasticity
  • Receptor mediated endocytosis
  • Targeted gold nanoparticle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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