Tryptone-stabilized gold nanoparticles target tubulin and inhibit cell viability by inducing an unusual form of cell cycle arrest

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Gold nanoparticles have been investigated extensively for their molecular mechanisms of action and anticancer potential. We report a novel, tubulin-targeted antiproliferative mechanism of action of tryptone-stabilized gold nanoparticles (TsAuNPs). TsAuNPs, synthesized using HAuCl4·3H2O and tryptone and characterized by a variety of spectroscopic methods and transmission electron microscopy, were found to be inhibitory to viability of human pancreatic (PANC-1), cervical (HeLa), and breast (MDA-MB-231) cancer cell lines in a concentration-dependent manner, with highest efficacy against PANC-1 cells. The particles strongly inhibited the clonogenic propagation of PANC-1 cells. TsAuNPs-mediated inhibition of cell viability involved an unusual mode of cell cycle arrest (arrest at both G0/G1 phase and S-phase) followed by apoptosis. In vitro, TsAuNPs bound purified tubulin, competitively inhibited anilinonaphthalene sulfonate binding to tubulin, and suppressed tubulin assembly. In cells, tubulin-TsAuNPs interactions were manifested as a disrupted microtubule network, defective reassembly of cold-disassembled microtubules, and induction of tubulin acetylation. Our data indicate that TsAuNPs inhibit cell viability by inducing differential cell cycle arrest possibly through disrupted dynamicity of cellular microtubules.

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