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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Biological Sciences

First Advisor

John H Adler


Craig R Friedrich


Bacteriorhodopsin (bR), an optoelectric protein found in Halobacterium salinarum, has the potential for use in protein hybrid sensing systems. Bacteriorhodopsin has no intrinsic sensing properties, however molecular and chemical tools permit production of bR protein hybrids with transducing and sensing properties. As a proof of concept, a maltose binding protein-bacteriorhodopsin ([MBP]-bR) hybrid was developed. It was proposed that the energy associated with target molecule binding, maltose, to the hybrid sensor protein would provide a means to directly modulate the electrical output from the MBP-bR bio-nanosensor platform.

The bR protein hybrid is produced by linkage between bR (principal component of purified purple membrane [PM]) and MBP, which was produced by use of a plasmid expression vector system in Escherichia coli and purified utilizing an amylose affinity column. These proteins were chemically linked using 1-ethyl-3-[3-dimethylaminopropyl]carbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC) and N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS), which facilitates formation of an amide bond between a primary carboxylic acid and a primary amine.

The presence of novel protein hybrids after chemical linkage was analyzed by SDSPAGE. Soluble proteins (MBP-only derivatives and unlinked MBP) were separated from insoluble proteins (PM derivatives and unlinked PM) using size exclusion chromatography. The putatively identified MBP-bR protein hybrid, in addition to unlinked bR, was collected. This sample was normalized for bR concentration to native PM and both were deposited onto indium tin oxide (ITO) coated glass slides by electrophoretic sedimentation. The photoresponse of both samples, activated using 100 Watt tungsten lamp at 10 cm distance, were equal at 175 mV. Testing of deposited PM with 1 mM sucrose or 1 mM maltose showed no change in the photoresponse of the xiv material, however addition of 1 mM maltose to the deposited MBP-bR linked hybrid material elicited a 57% decrease in photoresponse indicating a positive response for targeting of maltose.

This chemically linked MBP-bR hybrid protein, with bacteriorhodopsin, as a photoresponsive transducing substrate, shows promise for creation of a universal sensing array by attachment of other pertinent sensing materials, in lieu of the maltose binding protein utilized. This strategy would allow significant reduction in sensor size, while increasing responsiveness and sensitivity at nano and picomolar levels.