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Nano Shuttle Service into Cells

June 30, 2009

Shuttle Service into Cells

    A team consisting of  Wujie Zhang, a doctoral student in the Biothermostability Engineering Laboratory under the direction of Dr Xiaoming He in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Program at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC working on nanomaterial synthesis closely with Dr Jianhua Rong, who was a visiting scholar in Dr Qian Wang's Lab in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Nano Center at the University of South Carolina developed a thermally responsive nanocapsule-mediated approach to deliver a significant amount of trehalose (342 Dalton) into eukaryotic mammalian cells (NIH 3T3 fibroblasts). 
Nanocapsule-assisted intracellular delivery of trehalose

A schematic representation of the process of

nanocapsule-assisted intracellular delivery of trehalose: the

positively charged trehalose-loaded nanocapsule floating in culture

medium at 37 ?C (1) is attracted onto the negatively charged plasma

membrane and enwrapped in a clathrin-coated pit of the plasma

membrane (2). The coated pit then buds into the cytoplasm to form

the early endosome (~150 nm in size, 3). A cold shock treatment at

22 ?C results in breaking of the early endosome by the swollen

nanocapsule to release trehalose into the cytosol slowly by passive

diffusion (4). A quick release of the nanocapsule-encapsulated

trehalose can be achieved by heating the cells back to 37 oC to

squeeze the dissolved trehalose out of the nanocapsule as a result of

the more than 15-fold volume contraction (5)

    This research is a significant mile stone on the path to develop hierarchically structured nanomaterials for studying cell–cell interactions and the cooperative response of cells to extracellular matrixes. Research in Dr He's lab has been focused on understanding and controlling the thermal stability of biologicals by micro/nano encapsulation and multiscale modeling. The goal is to stabilize important biologicals such as stem cells or destabilize unwanted biologicals, for example cancer cells, for the treatment of diseases.

Dr Xiaoming He
Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Qian  Wang

Associate Professor and  Robert L. Sumwalt Professor of Chemistry

    The paper in Nanotechnology can be found at: :

    A News Story can be accessed at: