Permeability enhancement of Escherichia coli by single-walled carbon nanotube treatment

Biotechnol Prog. 2017 May;33(3):654-657. doi: 10.1002/btpr.2443. Epub 2017 Apr 9.


This research investigated the use of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) as an additive to increase the permeability of a bacterial cell wall. Recombinant Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3) that expressed β-lactamase were exposed to SWNTs under various levels of concentration and agitation. Activity of β-lactamase in the culture fluid and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were used to determine the amount of released protein, and visually examine the permeability enhancement of the cells. It was found that β-lactamase release in the culture fluid occurred in a dose-dependent manner with treatment by SWNTs and was also dependent on agitation rate. Based on TEM, this treatment successfully caused an increase in permeability without significant damage to the cell wall. Consequently, SWNTs can be used as an enhancement agent to cause the release of intracellular proteins. © 2017 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 33:654-657, 2017.

Keywords: Escherichia coli; permeability; single-walled carbon nanotubes.

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / ultrastructure*
  • beta-Lactamases / metabolism


  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • beta-Lactamases