Nanoparticle Anisotropy Increases Targeting Interactions on Live-Cell Membranes

Bundit Diloknawarit, Kwahun Lee, Priscilla Choo, Teri W. Odom*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes how branch lengths of anisotropic nanoparticles can affect interactions between grafted ligands and cell-membrane receptors. Using live-cell, single-particle tracking, we found that DNA aptamer-gold nanostar nanoconstructs with longer branches showed improved binding efficacy to human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) on cancer cell membranes. Inhibiting nanoconstruct-HER2 binding promoted nonspecific interactions, which increased the rotational speed of long-branched nanoconstructs but did not affect that of short-branched constructs. Bivariate analysis of the rotational and translational dynamics showed that longer branch lengths increased the ratio of targeting to nontargeting interactions. We also found that longer branches increased the nanoconstruct-cell interaction times before internalization and decreased intracellular trafficking velocities. Differences in binding efficacy revealed by single-particle dynamics can be attributed to the distinct protein corona distributions on short- and long-branched nanoconstructs, as validated by transmission electron microscopy. Minimal protein adsorption at the high positive curvature tips of long-branched nanoconstructs facilitated binding of DNA aptamer ligands to HER2. Our study reveals the significance of nanoparticle branch length in regulating local chemical environment and interactions with live cells at the single-particle level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12537-12546
Number of pages10
JournalACS nano
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 14 2024


  • branch length
  • membrane-receptor targeting
  • nanoparticle shape
  • protein corona
  • single-particle tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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