Journal article

Nanoplasmonic mid-infrared biosensor for in vitro protein secondary structure detection

Plasmonic nanoantennas offer new applications in mid-infrared (mid-IR) absorption spectroscopy with ultrasensitive detection of structural signatures of biomolecules, such as proteins, due to their strong resonant near-fields. The amide I fingerprint of a protein contains conformational information that is greatly important for understanding its function in health and disease. Here, we introduce a non-invasive, label-free mid-IR nanoantenna-array sensor for secondary structure identification of nanometer-thin protein layers in aqueous solution by resolving the content of plasmonically enhanced amide I signatures. We successfully detect random coil to cross beta-sheet conformational changes associated with a-synuclein protein aggregation, a detrimental process in many neurodegenerative disorders. Notably, our experimental results demonstrate high conformational sensitivity by differentiating subtle secondary-structural variations in a native beta-sheet protein monolayer from those of cross beta-sheets, which are characteristic of pathological aggregates. Our nanoplasmonic biosensor is a highly promising and versatile tool for in vitro structural analysis of thin protein layers.


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