Analysis of Silicon Quantum Dots and Serum Proteins Interactions Using Asymmetrical Flow Field-Flow Fractionation

Usharani Nagarajan*, Sourov Chandra*, Tomohiko Yamazaki, Naoto Shirahata, Françoise M. Winnik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Semiconductor nanocrystals or quantum dots (QDs) have gained significant attention in biomedical research as versatile probes for imaging, sensing, and therapies. However, the interactions between proteins and QDs, which are crucial for their use in biological applications, are not yet fully understood. Asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) is a promising method for analyzing the interactions of proteins with QDs. This technique uses a combination of hydrodynamic and centrifugal forces to separate and fractionate particles based on their size and shape. By coupling AF4 with other techniques, such as fluorescence spectroscopy and multi-angle light scattering, it is possible to determine the binding affinity and stoichiometry of protein-QD interactions. Herein, this approach has been utilized to determine the interaction between fetal bovine serum (FBS) and silicon quantum dots (SiQDs). Unlike metal-containing conventional QDs, SiQDs are highly biocompatible and photostable in nature, making them attractive for a wide range of biomedical applications. In this study, AF4 has provided crucial information on the size and shape of the FBS/SiQD complexes, their elution profile, and their interaction with serum components in real time. The differential scanning microcalorimetric technique has also been employed to monitor the thermodynamic behavior of proteins in the presence of SiQDs. We have investigated their binding mechanisms by incubating them at temperatures below and above the protein denaturation. This study yields various significant characteristics such as their hydrodynamic radius, size distribution, and conformational behavior. The compositions of SiQD and FBS influence the size distribution of their bioconjugates; the size increases by intensifying the concentration of FBS, with their hydrodynamic radii ranging between 150 and 300 nm. The results signify that in the alliance of SiQDs to the system, there is an augmentation of the denaturation point of the proteins and hence their thermal stability, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the interactions between FBS and QDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7557-7565
Number of pages9
Issue number22
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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