Carbon nanoparticles can penetrate the cell membrane and cause cytotoxicity. The diffusion feature and translocation free energy of fullerene through lipid membranes is well reported. However, the knowledge on self-assembly of fullerenes and resulting effects on lipid membrane is poorly addressed. In this work, the self-assembly of fullerene nanoparticles and the resulting influence on the dioleoylphosphtidylcholine (DOPC) model membrane were studied by using all-atom molecular dynamics simulations with explicit solvents. Our simulation results confirm that gathered small fullerene cluster can invade lipid membrane. Simulations show two pathways: 1) assembly process is completely finished before penetration; 2) assembly process coincides with penetration. Simulation results also demonstrate that in the membrane interior, fullerene clusters tend to stay at the position which is 1.0 nm away from the membrane center. In addition, the diverse microscopic stacking mode (i.e., equilateral triangle, tetrahedral pentahedral, trigonal bipyramid and octahedron) of these small fullerene clusters are well characterized. Thus our simulations provide a detailed high-resolution characterization of the microscopic structures of the small fullerene clusters. Further, we found the gathered small fullerene clusters have significant adverse disturbances to the local structure of the membrane, but no great influence on the global integrity of the lipid membrane, which suggests the prerequisite of high-content fullerene for cytotoxicity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)