Polypeptide functionalized gold nanoparticles for bioanalytical applications

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: Detection strategies that allow for simple, rapid, cost efficient and sensitive monitoring of proteins and their interactions with biomolecules are of great importance in drug development and diagnostics. This thesis describes the development of bioanalytical applications based on the tunable self-assembly of gold nanoparticles functionalized with a de novo designed polypeptide. Strategies for protein affinity sensing and for detection of several fundamentally important biological processes have been investigated, including Zn2+-mediated coordination between polypeptides and low molecular weight chelants and protease and phosphatase activity.A Zn2+ responsive synthetic polypeptide designed to fold into a helix-loop-helix motif and dimerize into a four-helix bundle has been used to control the stability and self-assembly of gold nanoparticles. This polypeptide has a high negative net charge at neutral pH as a consequence of its many glutamic acid residues, efficiently preventing folding and dimerization due to charge repulsion. Zn2+ coordination provides a means to trigger folding and dimerization at neutral pH. The polypeptide can be readily attached to gold nanoparticles via a cysteine residue in the loop region, retaining its folding properties and responsiveness to Zn2+. The polypeptide functionalized gold nanoparticles display excellent colloidal stability but aggregate reversibly after addition of millimolar concentrations of Zn2+. Aggregates are dense with a defined interparticle distance corresponding to the size of the four-helix bundle, resulting in a distinct red shift of the localized surface plasmon resonance band.Three completely different strategies for colorimetric biosensing have been developed, all being based on the same responsive hybrid nanomaterial. In the first strategy a synthetic receptor was co-immobilized on the gold nanoparticles together with the Zn2+ responsive polypeptide. Protein analyte binding to the receptor could be detected as this interaction sterically prevented aggregation induced by Zn2+. In the second strategy the reduction in colloidal stability caused by specific proteolytic cleavage of the immobilized polypeptide was exploited to monitor the enzymatic activity. The third strategy utilized the sensitivity of the system to small variations in Zn2+ concentration. The presence of low molecular weight chelants was found to influence the mode of aggregation, both by sequestering Zn2+ and through the formation of ternary complexes involving the polypeptides, which prevented dimerization and thus aggregation. This approach was further developed into a generic concept for phosphatase detection exploiting the different affinity of enzyme substrates and reaction products for Zn2+.The flexibility of the different detection schemes enables detection of a large number of analytes by exploiting the tunable stability of the nanoparticles and the possibilities to effectively decouple the recognition event and the nanoparticle stability modulation.