Allosteric effects of gold nanoparticles on human serum albumin

TitleAllosteric effects of gold nanoparticles on human serum albumin
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsShao, Q, Hall, CK
JournalRoyal Society of Chemistry
Start Page380
Date Published11/2016

The ability of nanoparticles to alter protein structure and dynamics plays an important role in their medical and biological applications. We investigate allosteric effects of gold nanoparticles on human serum albumin protein using molecular simulations. The extent to which bound nanoparticles influence the structure and dynamics of residues distant from the binding site is analyzed. The root mean square deviation, root mean square fluctuation and variation in the secondary structure of individual residues on a human serum albumin protein are calculated for four protein–gold nanoparticle binding complexes. The complexes are identified in a brute-force search process using an implicit-solvent coarse-grained model for proteins and nanoparticles. They are then converted to atomic resolution and their structural and dynamic properties are investigated using explicit-solvent atomistic molecular dynamics simulations. The results show that even though the albumin protein remains in a folded structure, the presence of a gold nanoparticle can cause more than 50% of the residues to decrease their flexibility significantly, and approximately 10% of the residues to change their secondary structure. These affected residues are distributed on the whole protein, even on regions that are distant from the nanoparticle. We analyze the changes in structure and flexibility of amino acid residues on a variety of binding sites on albumin and confirm that nanoparticles could allosterically affect the ability of albumin to bind fatty acids, thyroxin and metals. Our simulations suggest that allosteric effects must be considered when designing and deploying nanoparticles in medical and biological applications that depend on protein–nanoparticle interactions.