Journal article

A centrifugation-based physicochemical characterization method for the interaction between proteins and nanoparticles

Nanomedicine requires in-depth knowledge of nanoparticle-protein interactions. These interactions are studied with methods limited to large or fluorescently labelled nanoparticles as they rely on scattering or fluorescence-correlation signals. Here, we have developed a method based on analytical ultracentrifugation (AUC) as an absorbance-based, label-free tool to determine dissociation constants (K-D), stoichiometry (N-max), and Hill coefficient (n), for the association of bovine serum albumin (BSA) with gold nanoparticles. Absorption at 520 nm in AUC renders the measurements insensitive to unbound and aggregated proteins. Measurements remain accurate and do not become more challenging for small (sub-10 nm) nanoparticles. In AUC, frictional ratio analysis allows for the qualitative assessment of the shape of the analyte. Data suggests that small-nanoparticles/protein complexes significantly deviate from a spherical shape even at maximum coverage. We believe that this method could become one of the established approaches for the characterization of the interaction of (small) nanoparticles with proteins.

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