Epidermal Growth Factor Enhances Cellular Uptake of Polystyrene Nanoparticles by Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis

Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Jun 19;18(6):1301. doi: 10.3390/ijms18061301.


The interaction between nanoparticles and cells has been studied extensively, but most research has focused on the effect of various nanoparticle characteristics, such as size, morphology, and surface charge, on the cellular uptake of nanoparticles. In contrast, there have been very few studies to assess the influence of cellular factors, such as growth factor responses, on the cellular uptake efficiency of nanoparticles. The aim of this study was to clarify the effects of epidermal growth factor (EGF) on the uptake efficiency of polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) by A431 cells, a human carcinoma epithelial cell line. The results showed that EGF enhanced the uptake efficiency of A431 cells for PS NPs. In addition, inhibition and localization studies of PS NPs and EGF receptors (EGFRs) indicated that cellular uptake of PS NPs is related to the binding of EGF-EGFR complex and PS NPs. Different pathways are used to enter the cells depending on the presence or absence of EGF. In the presence of EGF, cellular uptake of PS NPs is via clathrin-mediated endocytosis, whereas, in the absence of EGF, uptake of PS NPs does not involve clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Our findings indicate that EGF enhances cellular uptake of PS NPs by clathrin-mediated endocytosis. This result could be important for developing safe nanoparticles and their safe use in medical applications.

Keywords: EGF; PS NPs; cellular uptake; clathrin-mediated endocytosis.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Clathrin / metabolism
  • Clathrin / pharmacology*
  • Endocytosis / drug effects
  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Humans
  • Nanoparticles / administration & dosage
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nanoparticles / metabolism*
  • Particle Size
  • Polystyrenes / chemistry
  • Polystyrenes / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Surface Properties


  • Clathrin
  • Polystyrenes
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Sucrose
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors