Gold nanoparticles induce nuclear damage in breast cancer cells, which is further amplified by hyperthermia

Kodiha, Mohamed; Hutter, Eliza; Boridy, Sebastien; Juhas, Michal; Maysinger, Dusica; Stochaj, Ursula
November 2014
Cellular & Molecular Life Sciences;Nov2014, Vol. 71 Issue 21, p4259
Academic Journal
Gold nanoparticles have emerged as promising tools for cancer research and therapy, where they can promote thermal killing. The molecular mechanisms underlying these events are not fully understood. The geometry and size of gold nanoparticles can determine the severity of cellular damage. Therefore, small and big gold nanospheres as well as gold nanoflowers were evaluated side-by-side. To obtain quantitative data at the subcellular and molecular level, we assessed how gold nanoparticles, either alone or in combination with mild hyperthermia, altered the physiology of cultured human breast cancer cells. Our analyses focused on the nucleus, because this organelle is essential for cell survival. We showed that all the examined gold nanoparticles associated with nuclei. However, their biological effects were quantitatively different. Thus, depending on the shape and size, gold nanoparticles changed multiple nuclear parameters. They redistributed stress-sensitive regulators of nuclear biology, altered the nuclear morphology, reorganized nuclear laminae and envelopes, and inhibited nucleolar functions. In particular, gold nanoparticles reduced the de novo biosynthesis of RNA in nucleoli, the subnuclear compartments that produce ribosomes. While small gold nanospheres and nanoflowers, but not big gold nanospheres, damaged the nucleus at normal growth temperature, several of these defects were further exacerbated by mild hyperthermia. Taken together, the toxicity of gold nanoparticles correlated with changes in nuclear organization and function. These results emphasize that the cell nucleus is a prominent target for gold nanoparticles of different morphologies. Moreover, we demonstrated that RNA synthesis in nucleoli provides quantitative information on nuclear damage and cancer cell survival.


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