Magnetic Nanoplatforms for Covalent Protein Immobilization Based on Spy Chemistry

Xiuyu Jin, Quanhui Ye, Chien Wei Wang, Ying Wu, Kangling Ma, Sihan Yu, Na Wei, Haifeng Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immobilization of proteins on magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) is an effective approach to improve protein stability and facilitate separation of immobilized proteins for repeated use. Herein, we exploited the efficient SpyTag-SpyCatcher chemistry for conjugation of functional proteins onto MNPs and established a robust magnetic-responsive nanoparticle platform for protein immobilization. To maximize the loading capacity and achieve outstanding water dispersity, the SpyTag peptide was incorporated into the surface-charged polymers of MNPs, which provided abundant active sites for Spy chemistry while maintaining excellent colloidal stability in buffer solution. Conjugation between enhanced green fluorescence protein (EGFP)-SpyCatcher-fused proteins and SpyTag-functionalized MNPs was efficient at ambient conditions without adding enzymes or chemical cross-linkers. Benefiting from the excellent water dispersity and interface compatibility, the surface Spy reaction has fast kinetics, which is comparable to that of the solution Spy reaction. No activity loss was observed on EGFP after conjugation due to the site-selective nature of Spy chemistry. The immobilization process of EGFP on MNPs was highly specific and robust, which was not affected by the presence of other proteins and detergents, such as bovine serum albumin and Tween 20. The MNP platform was demonstrated to be protective to the conjugated EGFP and significantly improved the shelf life of immobilized proteins. In addition, experiments confirmed the retained magnetophoresis of the MNP after protein loading, demonstrating fast MNP recovery under an external magnetic field. This MNP is expected to provide a versatile and modular platform to achieve effective and specific immobilization of other functional proteins, enabling easy reuse and storage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44147-44156
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 22 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • magnetic nanoparticles
  • protein immobilization
  • protein−polymer conjugate
  • spy chemistry
  • surface polymerization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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