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ACS Omega


Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) bound with biomolecules have emerged as suitable biosensors exploiting unique surface chemistries and optical properties. Many efforts have focused on antibody bioconjugation to AuNPs resulting in a sensitive bioconjugate to detect specific types of bacteria. Unfortunately, bacteria thrive under various harsh environments, and an understanding of bioconjugate stability is needed. Here, we show a method for optimizing Listeria monocytogenes polyclonal antibodies bioconjugation mechanisms to AuNPs via covalent binding at different pH values, from 2 to 11, and 2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid (MES), 3-(N-morpholino)propanesulfonic acid, NaOH, HCl conditions. By fitting Lorentz curves to the amide I and II regions, we analyze the stability of the antibody secondary structure. This shows an increase in the apparent breakdown of the antibody secondary structure during bioconjugation as pH decreases from 7.9 to 2. We find variable adsorption efficiency, measured as the percentage of antibody adsorbed to the AuNP surface, from 17 to 27% as pH increases from 2 to 6 before decreasing to 8 and 13% at pH 7.9 and 11, respectively. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis reveals discrepancies between size and morphological changes due to the corona layer assembly from antibody binding to single nanoparticles versus aggregation or cluster self-assembly into large aggregates. The corona layer formation size increases from 3.9 to 5.1 nm from pH 2 to 6, at pH 7.9, there is incomplete corona formation, whereas at pH 11, there is a corona layer formed of 6.4 nm. These results indicate that the covalent binding process was more efficient at lower pH values; however, aggregation and deactivation of the antibodies were observed. We demonstrate that optimum bioconjugation condition was determined at pH 6 and MES buffer-type by indicators of covalent bonding and stability of the antibody secondary structure using Fourier transform-infrared, the morphological characteristics and corona layer formation using TEM, and low wavelength shifts of ultraviolet–visible after bioconjugation.

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