Influence of Particle Size on the Binding Activity of Proteins Adsorbed onto Gold Nanoparticles
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We used optical extinction spectroscopy to study the structure of proteins adsorbed onto gold nanoparticles of sizes 5-60 nm and their resulting biological binding activity. For these studies, proteins differing in size and shape, with well-characterized and specific interactions-rabbit immunoglobulin G (IgG), goat anti-rabbit IgG (anti-IgG), Staphylococcal protein A, streptavidin, and biotin-were used as model systems. Protein interaction with gold nanoparticles was probed by optical extinction measurements of localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) of the gold nanoparticles. Binding of the ligands in solution to protein molecules already immobilized on the surface of gold causes a small but detectable shift in the LSPR peak of the gold nanoparticles. This shift can be used to probe the binding activity of the adsorbed protein. Within the context of Mie theory calculations, the thickness of the adsorbed protein layer as well as its apparent refractive index is shown to depend on the size of the gold nanoparticle. The results suggest that proteins can adopt different orientations that depend on the size of the gold nanospheres. These different orientations, in turn, can result in different levels of biological activity. For example, we find that IgG adsorbed on spheres with diameter ≥20 nm does not bind to protein A. This study illustrates the principle that the size of nanoparticles can strongly influence the binding activity of adsorbed proteins. In addition to the importance of this in cases of direct exposure of proteins to nanoparticles, the results have implications for proteins adsorbed to materials with nanometer scale surface roughness.
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