1. Institute of Nano Biomedicine and Engineering, Key Laboratory for Thin Film and Microfabrication Technology of the Ministry of Education, Department of Instrument Science & Engineering, School of Electronic, Information and Electrical Engineering, Bio-X Center, Institute of Translation Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai 200240, China;
2. Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, 47 Taping Road, Peking 100850, PR China.
Chiral gold nanoclusters (Au NCs) exhibit attracting properties owing to their unique physical and chemical properties. Herein we report for the first time chiral gold nanoclusters' cytotoxicity and potential molecular mechanism. The L-glutathione (i.e. L-GSH) and D-glutathione (i.e. D-GSH)-capped Au NCs were prepared and characterized by HRTEM, UV-vis, photoluminescence and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy. Results showed that the CD spectra of L-glutathione (i.e. L-GSH) and D-glutathione (i.e. D-GSH)-capped Au NCs exhibited multiple bands which were identically mirror-imaged, demonstrating that the chirality of GSH-capped NCs had contributions from both the metal core and the ligand. The effects of AuNCs@L-GSH and AuNCs@D-GSH on cells were similar based on the cell physiology related cytotoxicity, although the effects became more prominent in AuNCs@D-GSH treated cells, including ROS generation, mitochondrial membrane depolarization, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Global gene expression and pathway analysis displayed that both AuNCs@L-GSH and AuNCs@D-GSH caused the up-regulation of genes involved in cellular rescue and stress response, while AuNCs@D-GSH individually induced up-regulation of transcripts involved in some metabolic- and biosynthetic-related response. MGC-803 cells were more sensitive to the oxidative stress damage induced by chiral Au NCs than GES-1 cells, which was associated with GSTP1 hypermethylation. In conclusion, chiral gold nanoclusters exhibit this chirality-associated regulation of cytotoxicity, different gene expression profiling and epigenetic changes should be responsible for observed phenomena. Our study highlights the importance of the interplays between chiral materials and biological system at sub-nano level.
Keywords: gold nanocluster, chirality, cytotoxicity, ROS, methylation, epigenetic analysis.