Nanoparticle surface-enhanced Raman scattering of bacteriorhodopsin stabilized by amphipol A8-35

J Membr Biol. 2014 Oct;247(9-10):971-80. doi: 10.1007/s00232-014-9701-9. Epub 2014 Sep 6.


Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) has developed dramatically since its discovery in the 1970s, because of its power as an analytical tool for selective sensing of molecules adsorbed onto noble metal nanoparticles (NPs) and nanostructures, including at the single-molecule (SM) level. Despite the high importance of membrane proteins (MPs), SERS application to MPs has not really been studied, due to the great handling difficulties resulting from the amphiphilic nature of MPs. The ability of amphipols (APols) to trap MPs and keep them soluble, stable, and functional opens up onto highly interesting applications for SERS studies, possibly at the SM level. This seems to be feasible since single APol-trapped MPs can fit into gaps between noble metal NPs, or in other gap-containing SERS substrates, whereby the enhancement of Raman scattering signal may be sufficient for SM sensitivity. The goal of the present study is to give a proof of concept of SERS with APol-stabilized MPs, using bacteriorhodopsin (BR) as a model. BR trapped by APol A8-35 remains functional even after partial drying at a low humidity. A dried mixture of silver Lee-Meisel colloid NPs and BR/A8-35 complexes give rise to SERS with an average enhancement factor in excess of 10(2). SERS spectra resemble non-SERS spectra of a dried sample of BR/APol complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriorhodopsins / chemistry*
  • Bacteriorhodopsins / ultrastructure*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / ultrastructure*
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Propylamines / chemistry*
  • Silver / chemistry*
  • Solubility
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman / methods*
  • Surface-Active Agents / chemistry


  • Polymers
  • Propylamines
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • amphipol A8-35
  • Silver
  • Bacteriorhodopsins