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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2009 Oct 1;104(2):240-50. doi: 10.1002/bit.22392.

Biospecific protein immobilization for rapid analysis of weak protein interactions using self-interaction nanoparticle spectroscopy.

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Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 Eighth Street, Troy, New York 12180, USA.


"Reversible" protein interactions govern diverse biological behavior ranging from intracellular transport and toxic protein aggregation to protein crystallization and inactivation of protein therapeutics. Much less is known about weak protein interactions than their stronger counterparts since they are difficult to characterize, especially in a parallel format (in contrast to a sequential format) necessary for high-throughput screening. We have recently introduced a highly efficient approach of characterizing protein self-association, namely self-interaction nanoparticle spectroscopy (SINS; Tessier et al., 2008; J Am Chem Soc 130:3106-3112). This approach exploits the separation-dependent optical properties of gold nanoparticles to detect weak self-interactions between proteins immobilized on nanoparticles. A limitation of our previous work is that differences in the sequence and structure of proteins can lead to significant differences in their affinity to adsorb to nanoparticle surfaces, which complicates analysis of the corresponding protein self-association behavior. In this work we demonstrate a highly specific approach for coating nanoparticles with proteins using biotin-avidin interactions to generate protein-nanoparticle conjugates that report protein self-interactions through changes in their optical properties. Using lysozyme as a model protein that is refractory to characterization by conventional SINS, we demonstrate that surface Plasmon wavelengths for gold-avidin-lysozyme conjugates over a range of solution conditions (i.e., pH and ionic strength) are well correlated with lysozyme osmotic second virial coefficient measurements. Since SINS requires orders of magnitude less protein and time than conventional methods (e.g., static light scattering), we envision this approach will find application in large screens of protein self-association aimed at either preventing (e.g., protein aggregation) or promoting (e.g., protein crystallization) these interactions.

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