Glycan heterogeneity on gold nanoparticles increases lectin discrimination capacity in label-free multiplexed bioassays†
The development of new analytical tools as point-of-care biosensors is crucial to combat the spread of infectious diseases, especially in the context of drug-resistant organisms, or to detect biological warfare agents. Glycan/lectin interactions drive a wide range of recognition and signal transduction processes within nature and are often the first site of adhesion/recognition during infection making them appealing targets for biosensors. Glycosylated gold nanoparticles have been developed that change colour from red to blue upon interaction with carbohydrate-binding proteins and may find use as biosensors, but are limited by the inherent promiscuity of some of these interactions. Here we mimic the natural heterogeneity of cell-surface glycans by displaying mixed monolayers of glycans on the surface of gold nanoparticles. These are then used in a multiplexed, label-free bioassay to create ‘barcodes’ which describe the lectin based on its binding profile. The increased information content encoded by using complex mixtures of a few sugars, rather than increased numbers of different sugars makes this approach both scalable and accessible. These nanoparticles show increased lectin identification power at a range of lectin concentrations, relative to single-channel sensors. It was also found that some information about the concentration of the lectins can be extracted, all from just a simple colour change, taking this technology closer to being a realistic biosensor.
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