Adsorption and Unfolding of a Single Protein Triggers Nanoparticle Aggregation

Sergio Dominguez-Medina, Lydia Kisley, Lawrence J. Tauzin, Anneli Hoggard, Bo Shuang, A. Swarnapali D. S. Indrasekara, Sishan Chen, Lin Yung Wang, Paul J. Derry, Anton Liopo, Eugene R. Zubarev, Christy F. Landes, Stephan Link

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The response of living systems to nanoparticles is thought to depend on the protein corona, which forms shortly after exposure to physiological fluids and which is linked to a wide array of pathophysiologies. A mechanistic understanding of the dynamic interaction between proteins and nanoparticles and thus the biological fate of nanoparticles and associated proteins is, however, often missing mainly due to the inadequacies in current ensemble experimental approaches. Through the application of a variety of single molecule and single particle spectroscopic techniques in combination with ensemble level characterization tools, we identified different interaction pathways between gold nanorods and bovine serum albumin depending on the protein concentration. Overall, we found that local changes in protein concentration influence everything from cancer cell uptake to nanoparticle stability and even protein secondary structure. We envision that our findings and methods will lead to strategies to control the associated pathophysiology of nanoparticle exposure in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2103-2112
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 23 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • correlation spectroscopy
  • nanorods
  • protein corona
  • superlocalization microscopy
  • surface plasmon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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