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The use of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as drug carriers has been studied in mammalian cells. Compared to nanoparticles, CNTs have a greater interior volume, being able to house more molecules of the drug; and this volume is more accessible, because the end caps can be easily removed.
Furthermore, plant science research focused on the study of the plant genome and gene function, as well as the improvement of crop spices has become one of the frontiers of nanotechnology.
To what extent nanomaterials can be used to deliver a payload inside plant cells is a subject that has not yet been widely studied. Plant cells differ from animal cells in several respects; One of the main ones is that in addition to the cell membrane, they have a wall around them that provides structural and mechanical support. The wall of plant cells is generally made of polysaccharides and cellulose, which provides the cell with a strong and rigid environment in which to live, but also constitutes an additional barrier that the molecules that carry the load must overcome to gain access to the interior of the cells. Thus, for example, many reagents for intracellular imaging (such as calcium dye), which are widely used in mammalian cells, cannot be applied to intact plant cells.
In new research, Chinese scientists have investigated the ability of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) to penetrate through the cell wall and cell membrane of intact plant cells, in order to find out if they can be used as molecular transporters.
In their work, Xiaohong Fang, a professor of chemistry at the Main Laboratory of Nanotechnology and Molecular Nanostructure of the Beijing Academy of Sciences, and her colleagues present the first proof that materials can be introduced into intact plant cells without help. external or previous treatments. Furthermore, they demonstrated that SWCNTs conjugated to small dye molecules or DNA can be transported into cells, showing the potential of SWCNTs as nanocarriers for plant cells. What's more, the team showed that with SWCNTs it is even possible to release different charges into different compartments inside a plant cell.
The team reported their results in the journal Nano Letters ("Carbon Nanotubes as Molecular Transporters for Walled Plant Cells").
Compared to existing delivery methods for walled plant cells - such as gene gun, electroporation, and microinjection - a nanoparticle-based delivery strategy has its advantages due to ease of intervention and broad applicability.
Fang's team's study opens up a new approach to charge delivery in walled plant cells. For example, DNA / RNA molecules could be sent for genetic manipulation or transformation of plant cells. Furthermore, the delivery of intracellular imaging agents or other regulators could allow real-time imaging or study of cellular processes, leading to a better understanding of the biology of plant cells.