Pairing nanoparticles with proteins

UPTON, NY -- In groundbreaking research, scientists have demonstrated the ability to strategically attach gold nanoparticles -- particles on the order of billionths of a meter -- to proteins so as to form sheets of protein-gold arrays. The nanoparticles and methods to create nanoparticle-protein complexes can be used to help decipher protein structures, to identify functional parts of proteins, and to "glue" together new protein complexes. Applications envisioned by the researchers include catalysts for converting biomass to energy and precision "vehicles" for targeted drug delivery.

The research, which was conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, will be published in the July 2, 2007 issue of the journal Angewandte Chemie.

"Our study demonstrates that nanoparticles are appealing templates for assembling functional biomolecules with extensive potential impact across the fields of energy conversion, structural biology, drug delivery, and medical imaging," said lead author Minghui Hu, a postdoctoral student working with James Hainfeld, Raymond Brinas, Luping Qian, and Elena Lymar in the Biology Department at Brookhaven Lab.

In the field of energy conversion, scientists have been searching for efficient ways to convert organic fuels such as ethanol into electricity using catalytic electrodes. But making single layers of densely packed enzymes, the functional part of such catalytic electrodes, has been a challenge. This new research shows that precisely engineered gold nanoparticles can be used to "glue" enzymes together to form oriented and ordered single layers, and that these monolayers are mechanically stable enough to be transferred onto a solid surface such as an electrode.

For this research, the scientists attached gold nanoparticles to an enzyme complex that helps drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria survive, which has been studied by Brookhaven Lab biologist Huilin Li. The researcher

Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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