Date of Graduation

Spring 2024


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Kyoungtae Kim


Quantum dots (QDs) are fluorescence nanomaterials with unique optical and physical properties. As such, they are highly sought after for their potential use in several biomedical and industrial applications. Despite their vast potential, recent studies have suggested that quantum dots are toxic to cells. Yet, the mechanism of quantum dots’ toxicity remains unclear. As such, my thesis aims to comprehensively examine the mechanism of quantum dots’ toxicity, emphasizing how quantum dots disrupt the actin cytoskeleton. In this study, I used RNA sequencing and mass spectrometry to investigate the influence of CdSe/ZnS QDs on the transcriptomic proteomic level of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. I found that through modulation of the mRNA level of several ribosomal component genes, quantum dots interfere with the translation of many proteins, including proteins that are associated with the actin cytoskeleton, such as LST8, MDM20, SLM1, SLM2, SIT4, SPA2, and TPM2. Furthermore, upon exploring the possibility of the direct interaction between quantum dots and the actin protein as a post-translation modification mechanism, I found that quantum dots can spontaneously bind to the monomeric form of the actin protein. This interaction results in the sequestration of the monomeric actin protein supply through complex formation and the alteration of the secondary structure of monomeric actin. Through this study, I presented a multi-level investigation of the toxicity of quantum dots and proposed a few mechanisms in which quantum dots can disrupt the actin cytoskeleton.


quantum dots, actin, transcriptomic, proteomics, protein interaction, cytoskeleton

Subject Categories

Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Biological Factors | Molecular Biology | Nanomedicine | Toxicology


© Nhi Le

Open Access