Directional conjugation of antibodies to nanoparticles for synthesis of multiplexed optical contrast agents with both delivery and targeting moieties

Nat Protoc. 2008;3(2):314-20. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2008.1.


Molecular optical imaging has shown promise in visualizing molecular biomarkers with subcellular resolution both noninvasively and in real-time. Here, we use gold nanoparticles as optical probes to provide meaningful signal in the presence of targeted biomarkers. We present a novel conjugation technique to control the binding orientation of antibodies on the surface of gold nanoparticles to maximize antibody functionality. Briefly, a heterobifunctional linker, hydrazide-polyethylene glycol-dithiol, is used to directionally attach the Fc, or nonbinding region of the antibody, to the gold nanoparticle surface. The conjugation strategy allows for multiplexing various glycosylated antibodies on a single nanoparticle. We present a method to prepare multifunctional nanoparticles by incorporating targeting and delivery moieties on the same nanoparticle that addresses the challenge of imaging intracellular biomarkers. The time estimate for the entire protocol is approximately 6 h.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biosensing Techniques*
  • Contrast Media / chemistry
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission / methods
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry


  • Antibodies
  • Biomarkers
  • Contrast Media
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Gold