Nanomechanical Insight of Pancreatic Cancer Cell Membrane during Receptor Mediated Endocytosis of Targeted Gold Nanoparticles

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Nanoscale alterations in the cellular membrane transpire during cellular interactions with the extracellular environment through the endocytosis processes. Although the biological innuendos as well as alterations in cellular morphology during endocytosis are well-known, nanomechanical amendments in the cellular membrane are poorly understood. In this manuscript, atomic force microscope is employed to demonstrate the nanomechanical alterations in membrane dynamics during receptor mediated endocytosis of gold nanoparticles conjugated with either plectin-1 targeted peptide (PTP-GNP) or scrambled peptide (sPEP-GNP). Plectin-1 is aberrantly overexpressed at cell membrane of pancreatic cancer cells and is known to provide and maintain cellular mechanical integrity. During receptor mediated endocytosis of nanoparticles, we demonstrate temporal nanomechanical changes of cell membrane in both immortal pancreatic cancer Panc1 cells and patient derived primary pancreatic cancer cell, 4911. We further confirm the alterations of plectin-1 expression in Panc1 cell membrane during the receptor mediated endocytosis using classical streptavidin-biotin reaction and establish its association with nanomechanical alteration in membrane dynamics. Withdrawal of PTP-GNPs from the cell culture restores the plectin-1 expression at the membrane and reverses the mechanical properties of Panc1. We also show a distinctly opposite trend in nanomechanical behavior in cancer and endothelial cells when treated with sPEP-GNP and PTP-GNP, respectively, signifying receptor independent endocytosis process. This study illustrates the nanomechanical perspective of cell membrane in receptor mediated endocytosis of nanoparticles designed for organ specific drug delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)984-994
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Bio Materials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 18 2021


  • atomic force microscopy
  • endocytosis
  • gold nanoparticle
  • membrane stiffness and pancreatic cancer
  • plectin-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biochemistry, medical


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