Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry

Chemiluminescent detection of cell apoptosis enzyme by gold nanoparticle-based resonance energy transfer assay.

PMID 24481623


We report a new chemiluminescence resonance energy transfer (CRET) technique, using gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) as efficient energy acceptor, for homogeneous measurement of cell apoptosis enzyme with high sensitivity. In the design of the CRET system, we chose the highly sensitive chemiluminescence (CL) reaction between luminol and hydrogen peroxide catalysed by horseradish peroxidase (HRP) because the CL spectrum of luminol (λ max 425xa0nm) partially overlaps the visible absorption bands of AuNPs. In this system, the peptide substrate (DEVD) of caspase 3 was linked to the AuNP surface by Au-S linkage. HRP was attached to the AuNP surface by means of a bridge formed by the streptavidin-biotin reaction. CRET occurred as a result of formation of AuNP-peptide-biotin-streptavidin-HRP complexes. The CL of luminol was significantly reduced, because of the quenching effect of AuNPs. The quenched CL was recovered after cleavage of DEVD by caspase 3, an enzyme involved in the apoptotic process. Experimental conditions were systematically investigated. Under the optimum conditions the increase of the CL signal was linearly dependent on caspase 3 concentration within the concentration range 25 pmol L(-1) to 800 pmol L(-1) and the detection limit of caspase 3 was as low as 20 pmol L(-1), one order of magnitude lower than for FRET sensors based on graphene oxides. Our method was successfully used to detect drug-induced apoptosis of cells. This approach is expected to be extended to other assays, i.e., using other enzymes, analytes, CL substances, and even other nanoparticles (e.g., quantum dots and graphene).