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Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) have mainly been used as cellular carriers for genes and therapeutic products, while their use in subcellular organelle isolation remains underexploited. We engineered SPIONs targeting distinct subcellular compartments. Dimercaptosuccinic acid-coated SPIONs are internalized and accumulate in late endosomes/lysosomes, while aminolipid-SPIONs reside at the plasma membrane. These features allowed us to establish standardized magnetic isolation procedures for these membrane compartments with a yield and purity permitting proteomic and lipidomic profiling. We validated our approach by comparing the biomolecular compositions of lysosomes and plasma membranes isolated from wild-type and Niemann-Pick disease type C1 (NPC1) deficient cells. While the accumulation of cholesterol and glycosphingolipids is seen as a primary hallmark of NPC1 deficiency, our lipidomics analysis revealed the buildup of several species of glycerophospholipids and other storage lipids in selectively late endosomes/lysosomes of NPC1-KO cells. While the plasma membrane proteome remained largely invariable, we observed pronounced alterations in several proteins linked to autophagy and lysosomal catabolism reflecting vesicular transport obstruction and defective lysosomal turnover resulting from NPC1 deficiency. Thus the use of SPIONs provides a major advancement in fingerprinting subcellular compartments, with an increased potential to identify disease-related alterations in their biomolecular compositions.

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