Species differences take shape at nanoparticles: protein corona made of the native repertoire assists cellular interaction

Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Dec 17;47(24):14367-75. doi: 10.1021/es404132w. Epub 2013 Nov 22.


Cells recognize the biomolecular corona around a nanoparticle, but the biological identity of the complex may be considerably different among various species. This study explores the importance of protein corona composition for nanoparticle recognition by coelomocytes of the earthworm Eisenia fetida using E. fetida coelomic proteins (EfCP) as a native repertoire and fetal bovine serum (FBS) as a non-native reference. We have profiled proteins forming the long-lived corona around silver nanoparticles (75 nm OECD reference materials) and compared the responses of coelomocytes to protein coronas preformed of EfCP or FBS. We find that over time silver nanoparticles can competitively acquire a biological identity native to the cells in situ even in non-native media, and significantly greater cellular accumulation of the nanoparticles was observed with corona complexes preformed of EfCP (p < 0.05). An EfCP-nanoparticle mimicry made with a recombinant protein, lysenin, revealed its critical contribution in the observed cell-nanoparticle response. This confirms the determinant role of the recognizable biological identity during invertebrate in vitro testing of nanoparticles. Our finding shows a case of species-specific formation of biomolecular coronas, and this suggests that the use of representative species may need careful consideration in assessing the risks associated with nanoparticles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cell Communication*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Molecular Weight
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Oligochaeta / cytology*
  • Oligochaeta / metabolism
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Silver / chemistry
  • Species Specificity
  • Toxins, Biological / chemistry


  • Proteins
  • Toxins, Biological
  • lysenin
  • Silver