Interactions between polymer surfaces and proteins towards an ideal biosensor substrate material

PhD project Marijn Kemper

Master student: Emiel Visser

The performance of immunoassay biosensors is strongly determined by the conformation of proteins immobilized on the sensor surface. To improve protein reactivity and reduce non-specific binding, we are performing a fundamental study on the interaction between proteins and a polymeric biosensor surface. We focus our studies on the adsorption of myoglobin on a polystyrene sensor surface. We combine experimental characterization techniques (in MBx) with molecular dynamics simulations (in TPS).

To systematically study protein-polymer interactions, we are preparing a range of polystyrene surfaces with well-controlled oxidation states. The orientation of proteins on the surface will be determined using monoclonal antibodies. Interaction energies will be measured using superparamagnetic beads that apply a translational or rotational excitation to the molecule. The experimental results will be compared to molecular dynamics simulations. The acquired knowledge will lead to a better understanding of protein-surface interactions and will set directions for biosensor optimizations.

This PhD project is performed in collaboration with the TPS group (Andrea Muntean and Alexey Lyulin), within the PolySensor project funded by the Dutch Polymer Institute (www.polymers.nl).