Potential Interference with Microtubule's Assembly by Graphene: a Tug-of-War
With ever-increasing demands on graphene-based materials and their encouraging applications in numerous nanotechnologies, the biological effects of graphene to living systems become crucial and ought to be well understood. Previously, both the cytotoxicity of graphene to biological cells and its potential application as nanomedicines have been revealed experimentally and theoretically. Besides many existing anticancer drugs targeting microtubules, here we investigate the possibility of graphene as a nanomedicine that could suppress the dynamic assembly and disassembly of a microtubule. We found that when a graphene nanosheet is at the hydrophilic interface of two neighboring hetero-dimers (containing alpha and beta tubulins) it can pull one dimer away from the other through a ``tug-of-war'' mechanism, driven by the strong dispersive interaction exerted by the surface of the graphene nanosheet. This work demonstrates that with existing mitigation methods for graphene's cytotoxicity (already developed in this field) a graphene-based nanomedicine could be designed to target microtubules of cancer cells and induce cells' apoptosis.