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Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) coated with azide groups were functionalized at the surface with biotin (biotin@SPIONs) and cysteine protease inhibitor E-64 (E-64@SPIONs) with the purpose of developing nanoparticle-based assays for identifying cysteine proteases in proteomes. Magnetite particles (ca. 6 nm) were synthesized by microwave-assisted thermal decomposition of iron acetylacetonate and subsequently functionalized following a click chemistry protocol to obtain biotin and E-64 labeled particulate systems. Successful surface modification and covalent attachment of functional groups and molecules were confirmed by FT-IR spectroscopy and thermal gravimetric analysis. The ability of the surface-grafted biotin terminal groups to specifically interact with streptavidin (either horseradish peroxidase [(HRP)-luminol-H2O2] or rhodamine) was confirmed by chemiluminescent assay. A quantitative assessment showed a capture limit of 0.55-1.65 μg protein/100 μg particles. Furthermore, E-64@SPIONs were successfully used to specifically label papain-like cysteine proteases from crude plant extracts. Owing to the simplicity and versatility of the technique, together with the superparamagnetic behavior of FeOx-nanoparticles, the results demonstrate that click chemistry on surface anchored azide group is a viable approach toward bioconjugations that can be extended to other nanoparticles surfaces with different functional groups to target specific therapeutic and diagnostic applications.

Original publication




Journal article


ACS Nano

Publication Date





9655 - 9663


Azides, Biotin, Click Chemistry, Cysteine, Data Mining, Ferric Compounds, Leucine, Luminescence, Magnetics, Microwaves, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology, Peptide Hydrolases, Plant Proteins, Proteome, Rhodamines, Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared, Streptavidin, Thermogravimetry