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Mapping and identification of soft corona proteins at nanoparticles and their impact on cellular association

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The current understanding of the biological identity that nanoparticles may acquire in a given biological milieu is mostly inferred from the hard component of the protein corona (HC). The composition of soft corona (SC) proteins and their biological relevance have remained elusive due to the lack of analytical separation methods. Here, we identify a set of specific corona proteins with weak interactions at silica and polystyrene nanoparticles by using an in situ click-chemistry reaction. We show that these SC proteins are present also in the HC, but are specifically enriched after the capture, suggesting that the main distinction between HC and SC is the differential binding strength of the same proteins. Interestingly, the weakly interacting proteins are revealed as modulators of nanoparticle-cell association mainly through their dynamic nature. We therefore highlight that weak interactions of proteins at nanoparticles should be considered when evaluating nano-bio interfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4535
JournalNature Communications
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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