Chiral Surface of Nanoparticles Determines the Orientation of Adsorbed Transferrin and Its Interaction with Receptors

Xinyi Wang, Mingzhe Wang, Rong Lei, Shui Fang Zhu, Yuliang Zhao, Chunying Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


When nanoparticles are exposed to a physiological environment, a "protein corona" is formed that greatly determines their biological fate. Adsorption of proteins could be influenced by chiral surfaces of nanoparticles; however, very few quantitative studies are available on the interaction of protein with the chiral surface of nanoparticles, and the underlying mechanism remains largely unresolved. We have developed a strategy to quantitatively analyze the adsorption and conformational features of transferrin on gold nanoparticles that are functionalized with d, l, and racemic penicillamine. We used a quartz microbalance platform to monitor the interaction of the adsorbed transferrin with transferrin receptors in HEK cell-derived liposomes. Results show that the chiral surface of nanoparticle determines the orientation and conformation of transferrin, which subsequently affects the interaction and recognition of transferrin with its receptor on the cellular membrane. Transferrin is widely used as a tumor-targeting ligand in cancer treatment and diagnosis since the transferrin receptor is overexpressed on the cell membrane of various types of cancer cells. Thus, the present results will help to expand the knowledge on biological identity of nanoparticles with chiral surfaces in a physiological environment and provide an insight into the rational design of therapeutic nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4606-4616
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 23 2017


  • chirality
  • gold nanoparticles
  • nanobiological effects
  • protein corona
  • transferrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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