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Visit of Prof. Debora Berti

from: Università di Firenze, 20/03/2015 - 12:00 - Room A51 - DCB

Nonspecific Interactions of Engineered Nanostructures with Model Cell Membranes

Debora Berti, Department of Chemistry, University of Florence and CSGI, via della Lastruccia 3, 50019 Firenze (Italy).


The interaction of nanoparticles (NPs) with biologically relevant interfaces, such as lipid membranes, is among the crucial turning points for the comprehension of nanoparticle toxicity and for their implementation in medicine. This contribution will deliver an overview of our recent work in the field, focused on nanovectors for nucleic acids [1,2] and inorganic NPs.

The interaction of lipoplexes with free-standing Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUVs), structural mimics of cell membranes, is studied for the first time with Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS), which provides a full characterize the internal morphology and mesostructure of the nanoplexes, and indicates that their liquid crystalline phase and the charge density of the membrane are the critical factors for internalization into GUVs. FCS is then used to characterize the membrane fusion intermediates.[3]

We will then turn our attention to the interaction of gold nanoparticles, either “naked” or passivated by a protein corona, with GUVs. [4] Their effect on bilayer morphology, permeability and fluidity present strong differences or similarities, depending on the observation length scale, from the colloidal to the molecular domains. After a surface-energy driven adsorption on the bilayer, the NPs, stiffen the region of contact and “freeze” the lipids in raft-like nanoscale domains.

These findings strongly suggest the interaction between nanoparticles and lipid membranes should be faced as a multiscale phenomenon.

[1] C. Montis; S. Milani; P. Baglioni, D. Berti, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 2012, 373, 57-68. [2] C. Montis, S. Sostegni, S., Milani, P. Baglioni, D. Berti, Soft Matter, 10, 24, 2014, 4287-4297 [3] C. Montis, P. Baglioni and D. Berti Soft Matter, 2014,10, 39-43. [4]C. Montis, D. Maiolo, I. Alessandri, P., Bergese, D. Berti, Nanoscale, 6, 12, 2014, 6452-6457 

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