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J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Nov 30;133(47):19178-88. doi: 10.1021/ja207515j. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

Multifunctional core-shell nanoparticles: discovery of previously invisible biomarkers.

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Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, George Mason University, Manassas, Virginia 20110, USA.


Many low-abundance biomarkers for early detection of cancer and other diseases are invisible to mass spectrometry because they exist in body fluids in very low concentrations, are masked by high-abundance proteins such as albumin and immunoglobulins, and are very labile. To overcome these barriers, we created porous, buoyant, core-shell hydrogel nanoparticles containing novel high affinity reactive chemical baits for protein and peptide harvesting, concentration, and preservation in body fluids. Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-acrylic acid) nanoparticles were functionalized with amino-containing dyes via zero-length cross-linking amidation reactions. Nanoparticles functionalized in the core with 17 different (12 chemically novel) molecular baits showed preferential high affinities (K(D) < 10(-11) M) for specific low-abundance protein analytes. A poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-vinylsulfonic acid) shell was added to the core particles. This shell chemistry selectively prevented unwanted entry of all size peptides derived from albumin without hindering the penetration of non-albumin small proteins and peptides. Proteins and peptides entered the core to be captured with high affinity by baits immobilized in the core. Nanoparticles effectively protected interleukin-6 from enzymatic degradation in sweat and increased the effective detection sensitivity of human growth hormone in human urine using multiple reaction monitoring analysis. Used in whole blood as a one-step, in-solution preprocessing step, the nanoparticles greatly enriched the concentration of low-molecular weight proteins and peptides while excluding albumin and other proteins above 30 kDa; this achieved a 10,000-fold effective amplification of the analyte concentration, enabling mass spectrometry (MS) discovery of candidate biomarkers that were previously undetectable.

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