Reagentless electrochemical biosensors through incorporation of unnatural amino acids on the protein structure

Elnaz Zeynaloo, Elsayed M. Zahran, Yu Ping Yang, Emre Dikici, Trajen Head, Leonidas G. Bachas, Sylvia Daunert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Typical protein biosensors employ chemical or genetic labeling of the protein, thus introducing an extraneous molecule to the wild-type parent protein, often changing the overall structure and properties of the protein. While these labeling methods have proven successful in many cases, they also have a series of disadvantages associated with their preparation and function. An alternative route for labeling proteins is the incorporation of unnatural amino acid (UAA) analogues, capable of acting as a label, into the structure of a protein. Such an approach, while changing the local microenvironment, poses less of a burden on the overall structure of the protein. L-DOPA is an analog of phenylalanine and contains a catechol moiety that participates in a quasi-reversible, two-electron redox process, thus making it suitable as an electrochemical label/reporter. The periplasmic glucose/galactose binding protein (GBP) was chosen to demonstrate this detection principle. Upon glucose binding, GBP undergoes a significant conformational change that is manifested as a change in the electrochemistry of L-DOPA. The electroactive GBP was immobilized onto gold nanoparticle-modified, polymerized caffeic acid, screen-printed carbon electrodes (GBP-LDOPA/AuNP/PCA/SPCE) for the purpose of direct measurement of glucose levels and serves as a proof-of-concept of the use of electrochemically-active unnatural amino acids as the label. The resulting reagentless GBP biosensors exhibited a highly selective and sensitive binding affinity for glucose in the micromolar range, laying the foundation for a new biosensing methodology based on global incorporation of an electroactive amino acid into the protein's primary sequence for highly selective electrochemical detection of compounds of interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113861
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
StatePublished - Mar 15 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrochemical biosensor
  • Glucose sensor
  • L-DOPA
  • Protein labeling
  • Unnatural amino acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Reagentless electrochemical biosensors through incorporation of unnatural amino acids on the protein structure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this