The interactions between proteins and gold colloids functionalized with protein-resistant oligo(ethylene glycol) (OEG) thiol, HS(CH(2))(11) (OCH(2)CH(2))(6)OMe (EG(6)OMe), in aqueous solution have been studied by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and UV-vis spectroscopy. The mean size, 2R, and the size distribution of the decorated gold colloids have been characterized by SAXS. The monolayer-protected gold colloids have no correlations due to the low volume fraction in solution and are stable in a wide range of temperatures (5-70 degrees C, pH (1.3-12.4), and ionic strength (0-1.0 M). In contrast, protein (bovine serum albumin) solutions with concentrations in the range of 60-200 mg/mL (4.6-14.5 vol show a pronounced correlation peak in SAXS, which results from the repulsive electrostatic interaction between charged proteins. These protein interactions show significant dependence on ionic strength, as would be expected for an electrostatic interaction (Zhang et al. J. Phys. Chem. B 2007, 111, 251). For a mixture of proteins and gold colloids, the protein-protein interaction changes little upon mixing with OEG-decorated gold colloids. In contrast, the colloid-colloid interaction is found to be strongly dependent on the protein concentration and the size of the colloid itself. Adding protein to a colloidal solution results in an attractive depletion interaction between functionalized gold colloids, and above a critical protein concentration, c*, the colloids form aggregates and flocculate. Adding salt to such mixtures enhances the depletion effect and decreases the critical protein concentration. The aggregation is a reversible process (i.e., diluting the solution leads to dissolution of aggregates). The results also indicate that the charge of the OEG self-assembled monolayer at a curved interface has a rather limited effect on the colloidal stabilization and the repulsive interaction with proteins.
Zhang, F., Skoda, M. W. A., Jacobs, R. M. J., Zorn, S., Martin, R. A., Martin, C. M., Clark, G. F., Goerigk, G., & Schreiber, F. (2007). Gold nanoparticles decorated with oligo(ethylene glycol) thiols: protein resistance and colloidal stability. Journal of Physical Chemistry: Part A, 111(49), 12229-12237. https://doi.org/10.1021/jp074293v