The primary focus of our research was to obtain global gene expression data in baker’s yeast exposed to sub-lethal doses of quantum dots (QDs), such as green-emitting CdSe/ZnS and InP/ZnS, to reveal novel insights on their unique mechanisms of toxicity. Despite their promising applications, their toxicity and long-lasting effects on the environment are not well understood. To assess toxicity, we conducted cell viability assays, ROS detection assays, and assessed their effects on the trafficking of Vps10-GFP toward the trans-Golgi network with confocal microscopy. Most notably, we used RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) to obtain gene expression profiles and gene identities of differ-entially expressed genes (DEGs) in QD-treated yeast. We found CdSe/ZnS QDs significantly altered genes implicated in carboxylic acid, amino acid, nitrogen compounds, protein metabolic processes, transmembrane transport, cellular homeostasis, cell wall organization, translation, and ribosomal biogenesis. Additionally, we found InP/ZnS QDs to alter genes associated with oxidation-reduction, transmembrane transport, metal ion homeostasis, cellular component organization, translation, and protein and nitrogen compound metabolic processes. Interestingly, we observed an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) in CdSe/ZnS-treated cells and a decrease in ROS levels in InP/ZnS-treated cells. Nevertheless, we concluded that both QDs modestly contributed cytotoxic effects on the budding yeast.



Document Type




Rights Information

© 2021 The authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


Confocal microscopy, DEGs, Gene expression, GFP, QDs, RNA-seq

Publication Date


Journal Title