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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Oct;1828(10):2283-93. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2013.04.026. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Surface-enhanced infrared absorption spectroscopy (SEIRAS) to probe monolayers of membrane proteins.

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Freie Universität Berlin, Experimental Molecular Biophysics, Arnimallee 14, 14195 Berlin, Germany.


Surface-enhanced infrared absorption spectroscopy (SEIRAS) represents a variation of conventional infrared spectroscopy and exploits the signal enhancement exerted by the plasmon resonance of nano-structured metal thin films. The surface enhancement decays in about 10nm with the distance from the surface and is, thus, perfectly suited to selectively probe monolayers of biomembranes. Peculiar to membrane proteins is their vectorial functionality, the probing of which requires proper orientation within the membrane. To this end, the metal surface used in SEIRAS is chemically modified to generate an oriented membrane protein film. Monolayers of uniformly oriented membrane proteins are formed by tethering His-tagged proteins to a nickel nitrilo-triacetic acid (Ni-NTA) modified gold surface and SEIRAS commands molecular sensitivity to probe each step of surface modification. The solid surface used as plasmonic substrate for SEIRAS, can also be employed as an electrode to investigate systems where electron transfer reactions are relevant, like e.g. cytochrome c oxidase or plant-type photosystems. Furthermore, the interaction of these membrane proteins with water-soluble proteins, like cytochrome c or hydrogenase, is studied on the molecular level by SEIRAS. The impact of the membrane potential on protein functionality is verified by monitoring light-dark difference spectra of a monolayer of sensory rhodopsin (SRII) at different applied potentials. It is demonstrated that the interpretations of all of these experiments critically depend on the orientation of the solid-supported membrane protein. Finally, future directions of SEIRAS including cellular systems are discussed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: FTIR in membrane proteins and peptide studies.


Cytochrome c oxidase; Hydrogenase; Photosystem; Proton transfer; Rhodopsin

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