Peptide Nanotube Encapsulated Enzyme Biosensor for Vapor Phase Detection of Malathion, an Organophosphorus Compound

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Sep 6;19(18):3856. doi: 10.3390/s19183856.


This study explores the use of a butyrylcholinesterase (BChE)-based, reversible reaction biosensor using screen-printed electrodes (SPEs) having a smaller working surface area than the single-use electrodes previously studied. Previous research demonstrated the prospective application of a single-use biosensor fabricated with an acetylcholinesterase (AChE) enzyme encapsulated in peptide nanotubes (PNTs) and enhanced with horseradish peroxidase (HRP) to detect organophosphorus compounds (OPCs) in aqueous and gas phases. In the current study, potential improvements to the biosensor are investigated. BChE-based biosensors were fabricated using PNTs, HRP, and Nafion in combination to increase the reactive surface area, enhance sensitivity, and maintain enzyme stability. Cyclic voltammetry (CV) was used along with the new modified sensor to measure malathion concentration in the gas phase. The results show that a BChE-based biosensor could reliably measure gas phase malathion concentrations between 6-25 ppbv by CV with the extent of inhibition linearly proportional to the malathion concentration (R2 = 0.941). This research demonstrated that fabricated BChE-based biosensors could be stored without cold storage requirement for up to six weeks with minimal performance degradation. Moreover, the sensor electrodes were each reused several times, and were still useable at the conclusion of the research. This research demonstrates the potential of fabricating a reusable, inexpensive biosensor that is capable of OPC detection with high sensitivity and a low detection limit without a long-term cold storage requirement.

Keywords: butyrylcholinesterase; cyclic voltammetry; horseradish peroxidase; malathion; organophosphate vapor; peptide nanotube.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Biosensing Techniques*
  • Butyrylcholinesterase / chemistry
  • Enzymes, Immobilized / chemistry
  • Gases / chemistry
  • Gases / isolation & purification*
  • Gold / chemistry
  • Horseradish Peroxidase / chemistry
  • Limit of Detection
  • Malathion / chemistry
  • Malathion / isolation & purification*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry
  • Nanotubes, Peptide / chemistry*
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / chemistry
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / isolation & purification
  • Water / chemistry


  • Enzymes, Immobilized
  • Gases
  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Nanotubes, Peptide
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Water
  • Gold
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Butyrylcholinesterase
  • Malathion