Short-chain alkanethiol coating for small-size gold nanoparticles supporting protein stability

Cristina Cantarutti, Paolo Bertoncin, Alessandra Corazza, Sofia Giorgetti, P. Patrizia Mangione, Vittorio Bellotti, Federico Fogolari, Gennaro Esposito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The application of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) is emerging in many fields, raising the need for a systematic investigation on their safety. In particular, for biomedical purposes, a relevant issue are certainly AuNP interactions with biomolecules, among which proteins are the most abundant ones. Elucidating the effects of those interactions on protein structure and on nanoparticle stability is a major task towards understanding their mechanisms at a molecular level. We investigated the interaction of the 3-mercaptopropionic acid coating of AuNPs (MPA-AuNPs) with β2-microglobulin (β2m), which is a paradigmatic amyloidogenic protein. To this aim, we prepared and characterized MPA-AuNPs with an average diameter of 3.6 nm and we employed NMR spectroscopy and fluorescence spectroscopy to probe protein structure perturbations. We found that β2m interacts with MPA-AuNPs through a highly localized patch maintaining its overall native structure with minor conformational changes. The interaction causes the reversible precipitation of clusters that can be easily re-dispersed through brief sonication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number40
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Amyloidogenic protein-nanoparticle systems
  • Nanoparticle stability
  • Protein unfolding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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