Binding Strength of Nucleobases and Nucleosides on Silver Nanoparticles Probed by a Colorimetric Method

Lu Yu, Na Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Because of their unique and tunable properties, oligonucleotide-functionalized noble metal nanoparticles have provided a versatile platform for various engineering and biomedical applications. The vast majority of such applications were demonstrated with gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) while only a few were demonstrated with sliver nanoparticles (AgNPs). This is largely due to the lack of robust protocols to functionalize AgNPs with thiol-modified oligonucleotides. Previous studies have revealed strong interactions between nucleobases and AgNPs. This could enable an alternative way to functionalize AgNPs with non-thiolated oligonucleotides. However, there is no quantitative study on the interaction strengths between AgNPs and oligonucleotides. Several methods have been used for quantitative evaluation of the interaction strengths between AuNPs and oligonucleotides. These methods often require specialized equipment that might not be widely accessible or rely on labor-intensive procedures to obtain the adsorption isotherms. Herein, we developed a colorimetric method, as a simple and high-throughput alternative of existing methods, to quantify the binding strength between AgNPs and nucleobases/nucleosides. In this colorimetric method, concentration-dependent destabilizing effects of nucleobase/nucleoside adsorption on AgNPs are utilized to indirectly quantify the amount of nucleobases/nucleosides adsorbed on AgNPs, thus deriving the binding strength between AgNPs and nucleobases/nucleosides. First, the concentration-dependent AgNP aggregation kinetics in the presence of nucleobases/nucleosides were systematically investigated. Then, this colorimetric method was used to determine the binding strengths between AgNPs and various DNA/RNA nucleobases/nucleosides. It was found that the ranking of interaction strengths between AgNPs and DNA/RNA nucleosides (dC < dT < dA, rC < rU < rA) is generally agreed with that between AgNPs and corresponding nucleobases (C < T < U < A). This suggests that DNA/RNA nucleosides interact with AgNPs mainly via the constituent nucleobases. It was also revealed that interactions of AgNPs with DNA/RNA nucleosides are significantly weaker than that with corresponding nucleobases. This implies that deoxyribose/ribose might sterically inhibit the interactions between nucleobases and AuNPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5510-5518
Number of pages9
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 7 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Binding Strength of Nucleobases and Nucleosides on Silver Nanoparticles Probed by a Colorimetric Method'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this