Potential disruption of protein-protein interactions by graphene oxide
Graphene oxide (GO) is a promising novel nanomaterial with a wide range of potential biomedical applications due to its many intriguing properties. However, very little research has been conducted to study its possible adverse effects on protein-protein interactions (and thus subsequent toxicity to human). Here, the potential cytotoxicity of GO is investigated at molecular level using large-scale, all-atom molecular dynamics simulations to explore the interaction mechanism between a protein dimer and a GO nanosheet oxidized at different levels. Our theoretical results reveal that GO nanosheet could intercalate between the two monomers of HIV-1 integrase dimer, disrupting the protein-protein interactions and eventually lead to dimer disassociation as graphene does [B. Luan et al., ACS Nano 9(1), 663 (2015)], albeit its insertion process is slower when compared with graphene due to the additional steric and attractive interactions. This study helps to better understand the toxicity of GO to cell functions which could shed light on how to improve its biocompatibility and biosafety for its wide potential biomedical applications.