This work explores the potential use of a member of the periplasmic family of binding proteins, the phosphate binding protein (PBP), as the biorecognition element in a sensing scheme for the detection of inorganic phosphate (P i). The selectivity of this protein originates from its natural role which, in Escherichia coli, is to serve as the initial receptor for the highly specific translocation of Pi to the cytoplasm. The single polypeptide chain of PBP is folded into two similar domains connected by three short peptide linkages that serve as a hinge. The Pi binding site is located deep within the cleft between the two domains. In the presence of the ligand, the two globular domains engulf the former in a hinge-like manner. The resultant conformational change constitutes the basis of the sensor development. A mutant of PBP (MPBP), where an alanine was replaced by a cysteine residue, was prepared by site-directed mutagenesis using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The mutant was expressed, from plasmid pSD501, in the periplasmic space of E. coli and purified in a single chromatographic step on a perfusion anion-exchange column. Site-specific labeling was achieved by attaching the fluorophore, N-[2-(1-maleimidyl)ethyl]-7-(diethylamino)coumarin-3-carboxamide (MDCC), to the protein through the sulfhydryl group of the cysteine moiety. Steady-state fluorescence studies of the MPBP-MDCC conjugate showed a change in the intensity of the signal upon addition of Pi. Calibration curves for Pi were constructed by relating the intensity of the fluorescence signal with the amount of analyte present in the sample. The sensing system was first developed and optimized on a spectrofluorometer using ml volumes of sample. It was then adapted to be used on a microtiter plate arrangement with μl sample volumes. The system's versatility was finally proven by developing a fiber optic fluorescence-based sensor for monitoring Pi. In all three cases the detection limits for the analyte were in the sub-μM range. It was also demonstrated that the sensing system was selective for phosphate over other structurally-similar anions, paving the way for the design and development of a new family of biosensors utilizing the specific binding properties of periplasmic proteins.
- Conformational change
- Fiber optic sensor
- Phosphate binding protein (PBP)
- Site-directed mutagenesis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering