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Open AccessArticle

New Evidence of the Bidentate Binding Mode in 3-MBA Protected Gold Clusters: Analysis of Aqueous 13–18 kDa Gold-Thiolate Clusters by HPLC-ESI-MS Reveals Special Compositions Aun(3-MBA)p, (n = 48–67, p = 26–30)

1
Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Texas, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA
2
Department of Biology, University of Texas, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Present Address: Department of Applied Physics and Material Science, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA.
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(9), 1303; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9091303
Received: 22 August 2019 / Revised: 8 September 2019 / Accepted: 9 September 2019 / Published: 11 September 2019
Gold clusters protected by 3-MBA ligands (MBA = mercaptobenzoic acid, –SPhCO2H) have attracted recent interest due to their unusual structures and their advantageous ligand-exchange and bioconjugation properties. Azubel et al. first determined the core structure of an Au68-complex, which was estimated to have 32 ligands (3-MBA groups). To explain the exceptional structure-composition and reaction properties of this complex, and its larger homologs, Tero et al. proposed a “dynamic stabilization” via carboxyl O–H––Au interactions. Herein, we report the first results of an integrated liquid chromatography/mass spectrometer (LC/MS) analysis of unfractionated samples of gold/3-MBA clusters, spanning a narrow size range 13.4 to 18.1 kDa. Using high-throughput procedures adapted from bio-macromolecule analyses, we show that integrated capillary high performance liquid chromatography electrospray ionization mass spectrometer (HPLC-ESI-MS), based on aqueous-methanol mobile phases and ion-pairing reverse-phase chromatography, can separate several major components from the nanoclusters mixture that may be difficult to resolve by standard native gel electrophoresis due to their similar size and charge. For each component, one obtains a well-resolved mass spectrum, nearly free of adducts or signs of fragmentation. A consistent set of molecular mass determinations is calculated from detected charge-states tunable from 3− (or lower), to 2+ (or higher). One thus arrives at a series of new compositions (n, p) specific to the Au/3-MBA system. The smallest major component is assigned to the previously unknown (48, 26); the largest one is evidently (67, 30), vs. the anticipated (68, 32). Various explanations for this discrepancy are considered. A prospective is given for the various members of this novel series, along with a summary of the advantages and present limitations of the micro-scale integrated LC/MS approach in characterizing such metallic-core macro-molecules, and their derivatives. View Full-Text
Keywords: 3-MBA/Au MPCs; TEA-HFIP; ESI-MS; HPLC-MS; bidentate binding 3-MBA/Au MPCs; TEA-HFIP; ESI-MS; HPLC-MS; bidentate binding
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MDPI and ACS Style

Black, D.M.; Hoque, M.M.; Plascencia-Villa, G.; Whetten, R.L. New Evidence of the Bidentate Binding Mode in 3-MBA Protected Gold Clusters: Analysis of Aqueous 13–18 kDa Gold-Thiolate Clusters by HPLC-ESI-MS Reveals Special Compositions Aun(3-MBA)p, (n = 48–67, p = 26–30). Nanomaterials 2019, 9, 1303.

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