American Chemical Society
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Graphitic Carbon Nitride Causes Widespread Global Molecular Changes in Epithelial and Fibroblast Cells

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posted on 2021-04-02, 21:29 authored by Chatterjee Amit, Gajanan Sathe, Abinaya Shunmugam, Prasanna Kumar Athyala, Vivek Ghose, Srujana Chitipothu, Narayanan Janakiraman, Ramaprabhu Sundara, Sailaja V. Elchuri
For scaffold and imaging applications, nanomaterials such as graphene and its derivatives have been widely used. Graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4) is among one such derivative of graphenes, which draws strong consideration due to its physicochemical properties and photocatalytic activity. To use g-C3N4 for biological applications, such as molecular imaging or drug delivery, it must interact with the epithelium, cross the epithelial barrier, and then come in contact with the extracellular matrix of the fibroblast cells. Thus, it becomes essential to understand its molecular mechanism of action. Hence, in this study, to understand the molecular reprogramming associated with g-C3N4, global gene expression using DNA microarrays and proteomics using tandem mass tag (TMT) labeling and mass spectrometry were performed in epithelial and fibroblast cells, respectively. Our results showed that g-C3N4 can cross the epithelial barrier by regulating the adherens junction proteins. Further, using g-C3N4–PDMS scaffolds as a mimic of the extracellular matrix for fibroblast cells, the common signaling pathways were identified between the epithelium and fibroblast cells. These pathways include Wnt signaling, integrin signaling, TGF-β signaling, cadherin signaling, oxidative stress response, ubiquitin proteasome pathway, and EGF receptor signaling pathways. These altered signature pathways identified could play a prominent role in g-C3N4-mediated cellular interactions in both epithelial and fibroblast cells. Additionally, β catenin, EGFR, and MAP2K2 protein–protein interaction networks could play a prominent role in fibroblast cell proliferation. The findings could further our knowledge on g-C3N4-mediated alterations in cellular molecular signatures, enabling the potential use of these materials for biological applications such as molecular imaging and drug delivery.