Use of gold nanoparticles as additives in protein crystallization

Diana Ribeiro, Alina Kulakova, Pedro Quaresma, Eulália Pereira, Cecília Bonifácio, Maria João Romão, Ricardo Franco, Ana Luísa Carvalho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) exhibit unique properties that have made them a very attractive material for application in biological assays. Given the potentially interesting interactions between AuNPs and biological macromolecules, we investigated AuNPs-induced protein crystal growth. Differently functionalized AuNPs were tested as additives in cocrystallization studies with model proteins (hen egg white lysozyme (HEWL), ribonuclease A (RNase A), and proteinase K) as well as with case studies where there were problems in obtaining well-diffracting crystals. Trials were performed considering different crystallization drawbacks, from total absence of crystals to improvement of crystal morphology, size, twinning, and number of crystals per drop. Improvement of some of these factors was observed in the cases of HEWL, RNase A, phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH), myoglobin, native aldehyde oxidase (AOH), and human albumin. In these proteins, the presence of the AuNPs promoted an increase in the size and/or better crystal morphology. From the systematic trials and subsequent observations, it can be concluded that the introduction of AuNPs should definitely be considered in crystal optimization trials to improve previously determined crystallization conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-227
Number of pages6
JournalCrystal Growth & Design
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2014


  • Biological macromolecule
  • Crystal morphologies
  • Crystal optimization
  • Crystallization conditions
  • Hen egg white lysozyme
  • Phenylalanine hydroxylase
  • Protein crystal growth
  • Protein crystallization


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