Controlled Three-dimensional Immobilization of Biomolecules on Chemically Patterned Surfaces

A. Biebricher1, A. Paul2, P. Tinnefeld1, M. Sauer1, and Armin Gölzhäuser1

1Physik Supramolekularer Systeme, Universität Bielefeld, Fakultät für Physik and Bielefeld Institute for Biophysics and Nanoscience (BINAS), Universitätsstr. 25, D-33615 Bielefeld, Germany, and
2Angewandte Physikalische Chemie, Universität Heidelberg, INF 253, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany




We used electron-beam lithography to fabricate chemical nanostructures, i.e. amino groups in aromatic self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on gold surfaces. The amino groups are utilized as reactive species for mild covalent attachment of fluorescently labeled proteins. Since non-radiative energy transfer results in strong quenching of fluorescent dyes in the vicinity of the metal surfaces, different labeling strategies were investigated. Spacers of varying length were introduced between the gold surface and the fluorescently labeled proteins. First, streptavidin was directly coupled to the amino groups of the SAMs via a glutaraldehyde linker and fluorescently labeled biotin was added, resulting in a distance of ~2 nm between the dyes and the surface. Scanning confocal fluorescence images show that efficient energy transfer from the dye to the surface occurs, which is reflected in poor signal-to-background (S/B) ratios of ~1. Coupling of a second streptavidin layer increases the S/B-ratio only slightly to ~2. The S/B-ratio of the fluorescence signals could be increased to ~4 by coupling of an additional fluorescently labeled antibody layer. Finally, we introduced tetraethylenepentamine as functional spacer molecule to diminish fluorescence quenching by the surface. We demonstrate that the use of this spacer in combination with multiple antibody layers enables the controlled fabrication of highly fluorescent three-dimensional nanostructures with S/B-ratios of >20. The presented technique might be used advantageously for the controlled three-dimensional immobilization of single protein or DNA molecules and the well-defined assembly of protein complexes.