Integration of noble metal nanoparticles with proteins offers promising potential to create a wide variety of biosensors that possess both improved selectivity and versatility. The multitude of functionalities that proteins offer coupled with the unique optical properties of noble metal nanoparticles can allow for the realization of simple, colorimetric sensors for a significantly larger range of targets. Herein, we integrate the structural protein collagen with 10 nm gold nanoparticles to develop a protein-nanoparticle conjugate which possess the functionality of the protein with the desired colorimetric properties of the nanoparticles. Applying the many interactions that collagen undergoes in the extracellular matrix, we are able to selectively detect both glucose and heparin with the same collagen-nanoparticle conjugate. Glucose is directly detected through the cross-linking of the collagen fibrils, which brings the attached nanoparticles into closer proximity, leading to a red-shift in the LSPR frequency. Conversely, heparin is detected through a competition assay in which heparin-gold nanoparticles are added to solution and compete with heparin in the solution for the binding sites on the collagen fibrils. The collagen-nanoparticle conjugates are shown to detect both glucose and heparin in the physiological range. Lastly, glucose is selectively detected in 50% mouse serum with the collagen-nanoparticle devices possessing a linear range of 3–25 mM, which is also within the physiologically relevant range.
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