Author(s): NM Sanabria and M. Gulumian

Source: PLOS ONE |  December 7, 2021

Abstract: Genetic molecular studies used to understand potential risks of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are incomplete. Intracellular residual ENMs present in biological samples may cause assay interference. This report applies the high-resolution melt (HRM) feature of RTqPCR to detect shifts caused by the presence of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). A universal RNA standard (untreated control) sample was spiked with known amounts of AuNPs and reverse transcribed, where 10 reference genes were amplified. The amplification plots, dissociation assay (melt) profiles, electrophoretic profiles and HRM difference curves were analysed and detected interference caused by AuNPs, which differed according to the amount of AuNP present (i.e. semi-quantitative). Whether or not the assay interference was specific to the reverse transcription or the PCR amplification step was tested. The study was extended to a target gene-of-interest (GOI), Caspase 7. Also, the effect on in vitro cellular samples was assessed (for reference genes and Caspase 7). This method can screen for the presence of AuNPs in RNA samples, which were isolated from biological material in contact with the nanomaterials, i.e., during exposure and risk assessment studies. This is an important quality control procedure to be implemented when quantifying the expression of a GOI from samples that have been in contact with various ENMs. It is recommended to further examine 18S, PPIA and TBP since these were the most reliable for detecting shifts in the difference curves, irrespective of the source of the RNA, or, the point at which the different AuNPs interacted with the assay.