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Anal Chem. 2009 May 1;81(9):3618-22. doi: 10.1021/ac802717c.

Nanoparticle-target interactions parallel antibody-protein interactions.

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  • 1Center for Molecular Imaging Research, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Building 149, 13th Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02129, USA.


Magnetic particles can act as magnetic relaxation switches (MRSw's) when they bind to target analytes, and switch between their dispersed and aggregated states resulting in changes in the spin-spin relaxation time (T(2)) of their surrounding water protons. Both nanoparticles (NPs, 10-100 nm) and micrometer-sized particles (MPs) have been employed as MRSw's, to sense drugs, metabolites, oligonucleotides, proteins, bacteria, and mammalian cells. To better understand how NPs or MPs interact with targets, we employed as a molecular recognition system the reaction between the Tag peptide of the influenza virus hemagglutinin and a monoclonal antibody to that peptide (anti-Tag). To obtain targets of different size and valency, we attached the Tag peptide to BSA (M(w)= 65000 Daltons, diameter = 8 nm) and to Latex spheres (diameter = 900 nm). To obtain magnetic probes of very different sizes, anti-Tag was conjugated to 40 nm NPs and 1 microm MPs. MP and NP probes reacted with Tag peptide targets in a manner similar to antibody/antigen reactions in solution, exhibiting so-called Prozone effects. MPs detected all types of targets with higher sensitivity than NPs with targets of higher valency being better detected than those of lower valency. The Tag/anti Tag recognition system can be used to synthesize combinations of molecular targets and magnetic probes, to more fully understand the aggregation reaction that occurs when probes bind targets in solution and the ensuing changes in water relaxation times that result.

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