Every protein--from albumin to testosterone--is folded into a unique, three-dimensional shape that allows it to function properly. Now Stanford University scientists have developed a simple test that instantly changes color when a protein molecule attached to a gold nanoparticle folds or unfolds. The new technique, which works on the same principle as ordinary pH tests that measure the acidity of water, is described in the March 2005 issue of the journal Chemistry and Biology.
"What weve developed is a simple and inexpensive sensor for determining when a protein changes its conformation," said study co-author Richard N. Zare, the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science in Stanfords Department of Chemistry. According to Zare, the new sensor may eventually provide biomedical researchers a fast, affordable method for detecting antibodies and other disease-related proteins. Acid and base
In their experiment, Zare, postdoctoral fellow Soonwoo Chah and graduate student Matthew R. Hammond created a liquid solution containing nano-sized particles of gold saturated with a protein called cytochrome c. "We chose gold nanoparticles because they are simple to prepare, easy to control and cost effective," the authors wrote. "To the best of our knowledge, however, gold nanoparticles have not been previously used to investigate the folding and unfolding of proteins."
Mark Shwartz | EurekAlert!
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