Probing the Interaction of Bovine Serum Albumin with Copper Nanoclusters: Realization of Binding Pathway Different from Protein Corona.


Akhuli A(1), Chakraborty D(1), Agrawal AK(1), Sarkar M(1).
Author information:
(1)School of Chemical Sciences, National Institute of Science Education and Research, HBNI, Bhimpur-Padanpur, Jatni, Khorda, Bhubaneswar 752050, Odisha, India.


With an aim to understand the interaction mechanism of bovine serum albumin (BSA) with copper nanoclusters (CuNCs), three different types CuNCs having chemically different surface ligands, namely, tannic acid (TA), chitosan, and cysteine (Cys), have been fabricated, and investigations are carried out in the absence and presence of protein (BSA) at ensemble-averaged and single-molecule levels. The CuNCs, capped with different surface ligands, are consciously chosen so that the role of surface ligands in the overall protein-NCs interactions is clearly understood, but, more importantly, to find whether these CuNCs can interact with protein in a new pathway without forming the "protein corona", which otherwise has been observed in relatively larger nanoparticles when they are exposed to biological fluids. Analysis of the data obtained from fluorescence, ζ-potential, and ITC measurements has clearly indicated that the BSA protein in the presence of CuNCs does not attain the binding stoichiometry (BSA/CuNCs > 1) that is required for the formation of "protein corona". This conclusion is further substantiated by the outcome of the fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) study. Further analysis of data and thermodynamic calculations have revealed that the surface ligands of the CuNCs play an important role in the protein-NCs binding events, and they can alter the mode and thermodynamics of the process. Specifically, the data have demonstrated that the binding of BSA with TA-CuNCs and Chitosan-CuNCs follows two types of binding modes; however, the same with Cys-CuNCs goes through only one type of binding mode. Circular dichroism (CD) measurements have indicated that the basic structure of BSA remains almost unaltered in the presence of CuNCs. The outcome of the present study is expected to encourage and enable better application of NCs in biological applications.