American Chemical Society
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Unraveling the Biomolecular Snapshots of Mitosis in Healthy and Cancer Cells Using Plasmonically-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy

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posted on 2015-12-17, 05:44 authored by Sajanlal R. Panikkanvalappil, Steven M. Hira, Mahmoud A. Mahmoud, Mostafa A. El-Sayed
Owing to the dynamic and complex nature of mitosis, precise and timely executions of biomolecular events are critical for high fidelity cell division. In this context, visualization of such complex events at the molecular level can provide vital information on the biomolecular processes in abnormal cells. Here, we explored the plasmonically enhanced light scattering properties of functionalized gold nanocubes (AuNCs) together with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to unravel the complex and dynamic biological processes involved in mitosis of healthy and cancerous cells from its molecular perspectives. By monitoring various stages of mitosis using SERS, we noticed that relatively high rate of conversion of mitotic proteins from their α-helix structure to β-sheet conformation is likely in the cancer cells during meta-, ana-, and telophases. Unique biochemical modifications to the lipid and amino acid moieties, associated with the observed protein conformational modifications, were also identified. However, in healthy cells, the existence of proteins in their β conformation was momentary and was largely in the α-helix form. The role of abnormal conformational modifications of mitotic proteins on the development of anomalous mitotic activities was further confirmed by looking at plasmonic nanoparticle-induced cytokinesis failure in cancer cells. Our findings illustrate the vast possibilities of SERS in real-time tracking of complex, subtle, and momentary modifications of biomolecules in live cells, which could provide new insights to the role of protein conformation dynamics during mitosis on the development of cancer and many other diseases.