A sensitive assay for trypsin using poly(thymine)-templated copper nanoparticles as fluorescent probes
A new, simple and sensitive fluorescence strategy was developed for the trypsin assay based on copper nanoparticles (CuNPs) and its different fluorescence response toward trypsin-catalyzed hydrolysis of cytochrome c (Cyt c). Polythymine (poly T)-templated CuNPs served as effective fluorescent probes. Cyt c is well-known to act as a quencher. However, herein, a low concentration of Cyt c was designed specially to act as the substrate of trypsin to avoid the quenching effects by electron transfer from Cyt c to CuNPs. In the presence of trypsin, Cyt c hydrolyzes to small peptides, releasing free cysteine residues. Nonfluorescent coordination complexes were formed upon exposure to free cysteine residues by a metal–ligand bond between Cu atoms and sulfur atoms, leading to a decreased fluorescence response to CuNPs. This novel method for the quantitative determination of trypsin has a linear detection range from 0.25 μg mL−1 to 1000 μg mL−1 and a relatively low detection limit of 42 ng mL−1. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first application of the trypsin-catalyzed hydrolysis reaction of Cyt c to produce quenching effect in bioanalysis, which provided a novel approach for the biochemical sensing strategy.