Oriented immobilization of prion protein demonstrated via precise interfacial nanostructure measurements

Barbara Sanavio, Denis Scaini, Christian Grunwald, Giuseppe Legname, Giacinto Scoles, Loredana Casalis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nanopatterning of biomolecules on functionalized surfaces offers an excellent route for ultrasensitive protein immobilization, for interaction measurements, and for the fabrication of devices such as protein nanoarrays. An improved understanding of the physics and chemistry underlying the device properties and the recognition process is necessary for performance optimization. This is especially important for the recognition and immobilization of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), like the prion protein (PrP), a partial IDP, whose folding and stability may be influenced by local environment and confinement. Atomic force microscopy allows for both highly controllable nanolithography and for sensitive and accurate direct detection, via precise topographic measurements on ultraflat surfaces, of protein interactions in a liquid environment, thus different environmental parameters affecting the biorecognition phenomenon can be investigated in situ. Using nanografting, a tip-induced lithographic technique, and an affinity immobilization strategy based on two different histidine tagged antibodies, with high nM affinity for two different regions of PrP, we successfully demonstrated the immobilization of recombinant mouse PrP onto nanostructured surfaces, in two different orientations. Clear discrimination of the two molecular orientations was shown by differential height (i.e., topographic) measurements, allowing for the estimation of binding parameters and the full characterization of the nanoscale biorecognition process. Our work opens the way to several high sensitivity diagnostic applications and, by controlling PrP orientation, allows for the investigation of unconventional interactions with partially folded proteins, and may serve as a platform for protein misfolding and refolding studies on PrP and other thermodynamically unstable, fibril forming, proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6607-6616
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 23 2010


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Nanografting
  • Prion protein
  • Protein immobilization
  • Protein orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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