Nano Research

Article Title

Silica nanoparticle with a single His-tag for addressable functionalization, reversible assembly, and recycling


His-tagged nanoparticle, solid phase, reversible assembly, addressable functionalization, protein orientation


ABSTRACT For many biomedical and catalytic applications, such as encapsulation of proteins/enzymes in nanoparticles (NPs), it is preferable to have well-dispersed small NPs that are stable in solution and behave quasi-homogeneously. However, conventional liquid phase methods for small-NP synthesis and functionalization usually face great difficulties in separation/purification and recycling. In addition, controlling the orientation of proteins inside NPs is also a crucial issue to maximize the activity of the encapsulated proteins. Herein, we report a solid phase method to solve these problems. Using His-tagged proteins as cores, well-dispersed core-shell silica NPs are facilely synthesized and functionalized in a column. The core His-tagged proteins are kept bound on the surface of the resin beads in the column during the entire process, making the separation/purification of NPs and their precursors during the multiple-step process as simple as a few-minutes procedure of draining and washing the column. Each obtained silica NP has an adjustable eccentric core-shell structure with only one His-tag sticking out of the particle. This single His-tag on the surface of each NP not only makes it easy for addressable and stoichiometric functionalization of the NP but also provides an easy way to reversibly assemble NPs into dimers or be oriented on the surface of large particles. Notably, this solid phase approach also provides a versatile means to control the orientation of proteins inside NPs, and the His-tag makes it easy to recycle those well-dispersed small NPs.

Graphical Abstract


Tsinghua University Press