Protein corona modulates uptake and toxicity of nanoceria via clathrin-mediated endocytosis

Julie Mazzolini, Ralf J M Weber, Hsueh Shih Chen, Abdullah Khan, Emily Guggenheim, Robert K. Shaw, James K. Chipman, Mark R. Viant, Joshua Z. Rappoport*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Particles present in diesel exhaust have been proposed as a significant contributor to the development of acute and chronic lung diseases, including respiratory infection and allergic asthma. Nanoceria (CeO2 nanoparticles) are used to increase fuel efficiency in internal combustion engines, are present in exhaust fumes, and could affect cells of the airway. Components from the environment such as biologically derived proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids can form a dynamic layer, commonly referred to as the “protein corona” which alters cellular nanoparticle interactions and internalization. Using confocal reflectance microscopy, we quantified nanoceria uptake by lung-derived cells in the presence and absence of a serum-derived protein corona. Employing mass spectrometry, we identified components of the protein corona, and demonstrated that the interaction between transferrin in the protein corona and the transferrin receptor is involved in mediating the cellular entry of nanoceria via clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Furthermore, under these conditions nanoceria does not affect cell growth, viability, or metabolism, even at high concentration. Alternatively, despite the antioxidant capacity of nanoceria, in serum-free conditions these nanoparticles induce plasma membrane disruption and cause changes in cellular metabolism. Thus, our results identify a specific receptor-mediated mechanism for nanoceria entry, and provide significant insight into the potential for nanoparticle-dependent toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-60
Number of pages21
JournalBiological Bulletin
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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