We synthesized fluorescent ferritin nanoparticles (FFNPs) through bacterial expression of the hybrid gene consisting of human ferritin heavy chain (hFTN-H), spacer (glycine-rich peptide), and enhanced green (or red) fluorescent protein [eGFP (or DsRed)] genes. The self-assembly activity of hFTN-H that leads to the formation of nanoparticles (12 nm in diameter), the conformational flexibility of the C-terminus of hFTN-H, and the glycine-rich spacer enabled eGFPs (or DsReds) to be well displayed on the surface of each ferritin nanoparticle, resulting in the construction of green (or red) FFNPs [gFFNPs (or rFFNPs)]. As compared to eGFP (or DsRed) alone, it is notable that the developed FFNPs showed significantly amplified fluorescence intensity and also enhanced stability. DNA aptamers were chemically conjugated to gFFNP via each eGFP's cysteine residue that was newly introduced through site-directed mutagenesis (Ser175Cys). The DNA-aptamer-conjugated gFFNPs were used as a fluorescent reporter probe in the aptamer-based "sandwich" assay of a cancer marker [i.e., platelet-derived growth factor B-chain homodimer (PDGF-BB)] in phosphate-buffered saline buffer or diluted human serum. This is a simple two-step assay without any additional steps for signal amplification, showing that compared to the same aptamer-based assays using eGFP alone or Cy3, the detection signals, affinity of the reporter probe to the cancer marker, and assay sensitivity were significantly enhanced; i.e., the limit of detection was lowered to the 100 fM level. Although the PDGF-BB assay is reported here as a proof-of-concept, the developed FFNPs can be applied in general to any aptamer-based sandwich assays.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry