A molecular snapshot of charged nanoparticles in the cellular environment
Fleischer, Candace C.
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Nanoparticles are promising platforms for biomedical applications ranging from diagnostic tools to therapeutic delivery agents. During the course of these applications, nanoparticles are exposed to a complex mixture of extracellular serum proteins that nonspecifically adsorb onto the surface. The resulting protein layer, or protein "corona," creates an interface between nanoparticles and the biological environment. Protecting the nanoparticle surface can reduce protein adsorption, but complete inhibition remains a challenge. As a result, the corona, rather than the nanoparticle itself, mediates the cellular response to the nanoparticle. The following dissertation describes the fundamental characterization of the cellular binding of charged nanoparticles, interactions of protein-nanoparticle complexes with cellular receptors, and the structural and thermodynamic properties of adsorbed corona proteins.