Nanotube-assisted protein deactivation

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Conjugating proteins onto carbon nanotubes has numerous applications in biosensing1,2, imaging and cellular delivery3,4,5. However, remotely controlling the activity of proteins in these conjugates has never been demonstrated. Here we show that upon near-infrared irradiation, carbon nanotubes mediate the selective deactivation of proteins in situ by photochemical effects. We designed nanotube–peptide conjugates to selectively destroy the anthrax toxin, and also optically transparent coatings that can self-clean following either visible or near-infrared irradiation. Nanotube-assisted protein deactivation may be broadly applicable to the selective destruction of pathogens and cells, and will have applications ranging from antifouling coatings to functional proteomics.

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Figure 1: Behaviour of nanotube and nanotube–protein conjugates after NIR irradiation.
Figure 2: Deactivation behaviour of nanotube–protein conjugates.
Figure 3: Functionalizing carbon nanotubes with peptides that recognize anthrax toxin.
Figure 4: Applications of nanotube-assisted protein deactivation.


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We acknowledge support from the National Institutes of Health (U01 AI056546) and the National Science Foundation (DMR 0642573, CBET 0348613). We also thank R. Planty for assistance with the X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy measurements.

Author information

A.J. and S.P. designed and performed the experiments, analysed the data, and co-wrote the manuscript. S.S.B. and H.Y. carried out TEM imaging. T.B.-T. designed the experiments. R.S.K. conceived and designed the experiments, analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to Ravi S. Kane.

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Joshi, A., Punyani, S., Bale, S. et al. Nanotube-assisted protein deactivation. Nature Nanotech 3, 41–45 (2008) doi:10.1038/nnano.2007.386

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