Highly hydrophilic carbon nanoparticles: uptake mechanism by mammalian and plant cells†
As one of the carbon based materials, the potential application of carbon nanoparticles (CNPs) has emerged in the promotion of plant growth. However, knowledge on the biological mechanism of how the CNPs interact with plant cells is limited. In this study, nanostructures of CNPs were examined. The particles exhibited particulate morphology and their size distribution was in the range of 18 to 70 nm, with an average size of 30 nm. Hydrophilic groups of COOH and OH were present on the surface of CNPs, and CNPs showed the common feature of graphitic sp2 hybridization carbons. The CNPs were determined to be biocompatible with these two cell lines, mammalian cells (A549 cells) and plant cells (BY-2 cells). The COOH groups on the surface of CNPs were functionalized via covalent binding with a fluorescent dye for improvement of the fluorescence. The fluorescent carbon nanoparticles (FCNPs) were found to cross the cell membrane and enter cells (A549 cells and BY-2 cells) in an energy-dependent manner. Subsequently, the mechanism of FCNPs interaction with the cell membrane was evaluated in the presence of inhibitors that specifically affect different endocytosis membrane proteins. The FCNPs mainly entered A549 cells through caveolin-mediated endocytosis and macropinocytosis, and clathrin-dependent endocytosis was also involved in the transportation of the FCNPs. Clathrin-independent endocytosis mediated in the internalization of FCNPs in BY-2 cells. The way FCNPs entering cells will provide a fundamental understanding of the influence of CNPs on cell membrane.