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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2013 Nov 28;15(44):19284-92. doi: 10.1039/c3cp52149d.

Guanine binding to gold nanoparticles through nonbonding interactions.

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  • 1Division of Chemistry and Biological Chemistry, School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 21 Nanyang Link, Singapore637371.


Gold nanoparticles have been widely used as nanocarriers in gene delivery. However, the binding mechanism between gold nanoparticles and DNA bases remains a puzzle. We performed density functional theory calculations with and without dispersion correction on Au(N)( (N = 13, 55, or 147) nanoparticles in high-symmetry cuboctahedral structures to understand the mechanism of their binding with guanine at the under-coordinated sites. Our study verified that: (i) negative charges transfer from the inner area to the surface of a nanoparticle as a result of the surface quantum trapping effect; and (ii) the valence states shift up toward the Fermi level, and thereby participate more actively in the binding to guanine. These effects are more prominent in a smaller nanoparticle, which has a larger surface-to-volume ratio. Additional fragment orbital analysis revealed that: (i) electron donation from the lone-pair orbital of N to the unoccupied orbital of the Au cluster occurs in all complexes; (ii) π back-donation occurs from the polarized Au d(yz) orbital to the N p(y)-π* orbital when there is no Au···H-N hydrogen bond, and, (iii) depending on the configuration, Au···H-N hydrogen bonding can also exist, to which the Au occupied orbital and the H-N unoccupied orbital contribute.

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