- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite increasing awareness of their biological importance, mechanisms of DNA site discrimination by structurally homologous and functionally non-redundant transcription factors remain poorly defined concepts. Members of the ETS family of transcription factors, which regulate the differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells to the gamut of blood cell lineages, exemplify this conundrum. While the ETS-family members PU.1 and Ets-1 share structurally superimposable DNA-binding domains, the two homologs direct distinct cohorts of genes and induce mutually exclusive outcomes in hematopoietic cell-fate decisions. Using an array of biochemical, spectroscopic, and calorimetric techniques, we have compared DNA site recognition by PU.1 and Ets-1. The data indicate a startling level of structural, dynamic, thermodynamic, and kinetic heterogeneity associated with DNA site recognition by these proteins, which may be traced to their differential coupling of molecular hydration and counter-ion release with site-specific binding. Whereas site recognition by Ets-1 appears homogeneous with respect to DNA sequence identity, high- and low-affinity sites unmask major heterogeneity in PU.1 binding by all experimental observations. These differences are intrinsic to the two homologous DNA-binding domains; additional intramolecular interactions in adjacent domains exert no effect on the apparent homogeneity in Ets-1/DNA binding. The emerging evidence suggests a strong coupling between molecular hydration, DNA curvature, conformational dynamics, electrostatics as a mechanism for PU.1 to enforce different sequence preferences and kinetic behavior relative to Ets-1, and offer new insight into the functional differences between the two homologs. [This investigation is supported by NIH R15GM112002-01 to GMKP, NIH R01AI083803 to JKB, and NSF MCB1411502 to GMKP and WDW.]
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract Airborne nanoparticles (NPs) that enter the respiratory tract are likely to reach the alveolar region. Accumulating observations support a role for zinc oxide (ZnO) NP dissolution in toxicity, but the majority of in-vitro studies were conducted in cells exposed to NPs in growth media, where large doses of dissolved ions are shed into the exposure solution. To determine the precise intracellular accumulation dynamics and fate of zinc ions (Zn(2+)) shed by airborne NPs in the cellular environment, we exposed alveolar epithelial cells to aerosolized NPs at the air-liquid interface (ALI). Using a fluorescent indicator for Zn(2+), together with organelle-specific fluorescent proteins, we quantified Zn(2+) in single cells and organelles over time. We found that at the ALI, intracellular Zn(2+) values peaked 3 h post exposure and decayed to normal values by 12 h, while in submerged cultures, intracellular Zn(2+) values continued to increase over time. The lowest toxic NP dose at the ALI generated peak intracellular Zn(2+) values that were nearly three-folds lower than the peak values generated by the lowest toxic dose of NPs in submerged cultures, and eight-folds lower than the peak values generated by the lowest toxic dose of ZnSO4 or Zn(2+). At the ALI, the majority of intracellular Zn(2+) was found in endosomes and lysosomes as early as 1 h post exposure. In contrast, the majority of intracellular Zn(2+) following exposures to ZnSO4 was found in other larger vesicles, with less than 10% in endosomes and lysosomes. Together, our observations indicate that low but critical levels of intracellular Zn(2+) have to be reached, concentrated specifically in endosomes and lysosomes, for toxicity to occur, and point to the focal dissolution of the NPs in the cellular environment and the accumulation of the ions specifically in endosomes and lysosomes as the processes underlying the potent toxicity of airborne ZnO NPs.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract The growing use of engineered nanoparticles (NPs) in commercial and medical applications raises the urgent need for tools that can predict NP toxicity. We conducted global transcriptome and proteome analyses of three human cell types, exposed to two high aspect ratio NP types, to identify patterns of expression that might indicate high vs. low NP toxicity. Three cell types representing the most common routes of human exposure to NPs, including macrophage like (THP-1), small airway epithelial (SAE), and intestinal (Caco-2/HT29-MTX) cells, were exposed to TiO2 nanobelts (TiO2-NB; high toxicity) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT; low toxicity) at low (10 μg/ml) and high (100 μg/ml) concentrations for 1 and 24 h. Unique patterns of gene and protein expressions were identified for each cell type, with no differentially expressed (p<0.05, 1.5-fold change) genes or proteins overlapping across all three cell types. While unique to each cell-type, the early response was primarily independent of NP type, showing similar expression patterns in response to both TiO2-NB and MWCNT. The early response might therefore indicate a general response to insult. In contrast, the 24 h response was unique to each NP type. The most significantly (p<0.05) enriched biological processes in THP-1 cells indicated TiO2-NB regulation of pathways associated with inflammation, apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, DNA replication stress and genomic instability, while MWCNT regulated pathways indicating increased cell proliferation, DNA repair and anti-apoptosis. These two distinct sets of biological pathways might therefore underlie cellular responses to high and low NP toxicity, respectively.
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- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Differences in interlaboratory research protocols contribute to the conflicting data in the literature regarding engineered nanomaterial (ENM) bioactivity. Objectives: Grantees of a National Institute of Health Sciences (NIEHS)-funded consortium program performed two phases of in vitro testing with selected ENMs in an effort to identify and minimize sources of variability. Methods: Consortium program participants (CPPs) conducted ENM bioactivity evaluations on zinc oxide (ZnO), three forms of titanium dioxide (TiO2), and three forms of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). In addition, CPPs performed bioassays using three mammalian cell lines (BEAS-2B, RLE-6TN, and THP-1) selected in order to cover two different species (rat and human), two different lung epithelial cells (alveolar type II and bronchial epithelial cells), and two different cell types (epithelial cells and macrophages). CPPs also measured cytotoxicity in all cell types while measuring inflammasome activation [interleukin-1β (IL-1β) release] using only THP-1 cells. Results: The overall in vitro toxicity profiles of ENM were as follows: ZnO was cytotoxic to all cell types at ≥ 50 μg/mL, but did not induce IL-1β. TiO2 was not cytotoxic except for the nanobelt form, which was cytotoxic and induced significant IL-1β production in THP-1 cells. MWCNTs did not produce cytotoxicity, but stimulated lower levels of IL-1β production in THP-1 cells, with the original MWCNT producing the most IL-1β. Conclusions: The results provide justification for the inclusion of mechanism-linked bioactivity assays along with traditional cytotoxicity assays for in vitro screening. In addition, the results suggest that conducting studies with multiple relevant cell types to avoid false-negative outcomes is critical for accurate evaluation of ENM bioactivity.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The majority of in vitro studies characterizing the impact of engineered nanoparticles (NPs) on cells that line the respiratory tract were conducted in cells exposed to NPs in suspension. This approach introduces processes that are unlikely to occur during inhaled NP exposures in vivo, such as the shedding of toxic doses of dissolved ions. ZnO NPs are used extensively and pose significant sources for human exposure. Exposures to airborne ZnO NPs can induce adverse effects, but the relevance of the dissolved Zn(2+) to the observed effects in vivo is still unclear. Our goal was to mimic in vivo exposures to airborne NPs and decipher the contribution of the intact NP from the contribution of the dissolved ions to airborne ZnO NP toxicity. We established the exposure of alveolar type II epithelial cells to aerosolized NPs at the air-liquid interface (ALI) and compared the impact of aerosolized ZnO NPs and NPs in suspension at the same cellular doses, measured as the number of particles per cell. By evaluating membrane integrity and cell viability 6 and 24 h post-exposure, we found that aerosolized NPs induced toxicity at the ALI at doses that were in the same order of magnitude as doses required to induce toxicity in submersed cultures. In addition, distinct patterns of oxidative stress were observed in the two exposure systems. These observations unravel the ability of airborne ZnO NPs to induce toxicity without the contribution of dissolved Zn(2+) and suggest distinct mechanisms at the ALI and in submersed cultures.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The helium ion microscope (HIM) probes light elements (e.g. C, N, O, P) with high contrast due to the large variation in secondary electron yield, which minimizes the necessity of specimen staining. A defining characteristic of HIM is its remarkable capability to neutralize charge by the implementation of an electron flood gun, which eliminates the need for coating non-conductive specimens for imaging at high resolution. In addition, the small convergence angle in HeIM offers a large depth of field (~5× FE-SEM), enabling tall structures to be viewed in focus within a single image. Taking advantage of these capabilities, we investigate the interactions of engineered nanoparticles (NPs) at the surface of alveolar type II epithelial cells grown at the airliquid interface (ALI). The increasing use of nanomaterials in a wide range of commercial applications has the potential to increase human exposure to these materials, but the impact of such exposure on human health is still unclear. One of the main routs of exposure is the respiratory tract, where alveolar epithelial cells present a vulnerable target at the interface with ambient air. Since the cellular interactions of NPs govern the cellular response and ultimately determine the impact on human health, our studies will help delineating relationships between particle properties and cellular interactions and response to better evaluate NP toxicity or biocompatibility. The Rutherford backscattered ion (RBI) is a helium ions imaging mode, which backscatters helium ions from every element except hydrogen, with a backscatter yield that depends on the atomic number of the target. Energy-sensitive backscatter analysis is being developed, which when combined with RBI image information, supports elemental identification at helium ion nanometer resolution. This capability will enable distinguishing NPs from cell surface structures with nanometer resolution.