Interaction of copper oxide nanoparticles with bacterial nucleic acids: a mini-review

Document Type : Mini-Review


1 Department of Biological Science, Faculty of Science, University of Kurdistan, Sanandaj, Kurdistan, Iran Nanobiotechnology Department, Faculty of Innovative Science and Technology, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran

2 Laser Research Centre, Faculty of Health Science, University of Johannesburg, Doornfontein, 2028, South Africa Wellman Centre for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA Department of Dermatology, Harvard



Despite the wide use of conventional antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, bacteria have now become resistant to many antibiotics and other antibacterial agents. This resistance is heritable and allows the spread of intractable bacterial infections, which is one of the biggest health challenges encountered around the world. This issue has led to the search for new therapeutic antibacterial agents. In the last few decades, nanomaterials, especially metal and metal oxide nanoparticles (NPs), have gained much attention due to their advantageous properties, including large surface-to-volume ratio and high antimicrobial activity. Among various metal and metal oxide NPs, copper oxide NPs have been particularly investigated owing to their biocompatibility and antibacterial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Several antibacterial mechanisms have been proposed for copper oxide NPs, among which their interaction with bacterial deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid is considered important. These NPs can disrupt the accuracy of DNA replication by changing the DNA sequence which result in differences in the target sequences bound by random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD) primers. This mini-review discusses this interaction according to recent studies.

Graphical Abstract

Interaction of copper oxide nanoparticles with bacterial nucleic acids: a mini-review


  • The antibacterial mechanism of CuONPs involves mediating damage to cell lipids, proteins, RNA, and DNA either by direct binding or by ROS generation followed by oxidation reactions.
  • The production of ROS caused by direct and indirect interaction of these NPs may change the expression of the NADPH production-related gene, oxidative stress-related genes, and antioxidant genes.
  • The genotoxicity of CuONPs can be increased by decreasing their size.
  • At higher doses of CuONPs, morphology changes are followed by major disruption of biological macromolecules, specifically lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids.
  • Choosing an effective dose of CuONPs is a critical factor to obtain desirable antibacterial activity against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, without damaging surrounding host tissue or polluting the environment.


Main Subjects

Rights and permissions

© 2023 by the MNBA. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (