Measuring ligand-protein interactions is critical for unveiling molecular-scale biological processes in living systems and for screening drugs. Various detection technologies have been developed, but quantifying the binding kinetics of small molecules to the proteins remains challenging because the sensitivities of the mainstream technologies decrease with the size of the ligand. Here, we report a method to measure and quantify the binding kinetics of both large and small molecules with self-assembled nano-oscillators, each consisting of a nanoparticle tethered to a surface via long polymer molecules. By applying an oscillating electric field normal to the surface, the nanoparticle oscillates, and the oscillation amplitude is proportional to the number of charges on the nano-oscillator. Upon the binding of ligands onto the nano-oscillator, the oscillation amplitude will change. Using a plasmonic imaging approach, the oscillation amplitude is measured with subnanometer precision, allowing us to accurately quantify the binding kinetics of ligands, including small molecules, to their protein receptors. This work demonstrates the capability of nano-oscillators as an useful tool for measuring the binding kinetics of both large and small molecules.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry