The size and shape of nanoparticles affects how they interact with cells. Using an innovative pair correlation technique, CBNS researchers probed the rate of transport of nanoparticles in live cells.
High aspect ratio nanoparticles (rod and wormlike structures) were found to access the nucleus via passive diffusion, whereas spherical particles (micellar and vesicle structures) showed significantly less accumulation in the nucleus.
The addition of peptides that target the nanoparticles to the nucleus (nuclear localisation sequences (NLS)) improved the localisation of the high aspect ratio particles in the nucleus, but did not significantly increase the localisation of the spherical particles.
These results suggest that the physical barrier of the nuclear membrane overrides the signalling function of the NLS. These results offer significant insight in the delivery of therapeutics to intracellular compartments, and are especially important for anti-cancer drug delivery and gene therapy.