Evidence of energy transfer from tryptophan to BSA/HSA protected gold nanoclusters

Sangram Raut, Rahul Chib, Susan Butler, Julian Borejdo, Zygmunt Gryczynski, Ignacy Gryczynski

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32 Scopus citations


This work reports on the chromophores interactions within protein-protected gold nanoclusters. We conducted spectroscopic studies of fluorescence emissions originated from gold nanoclusters and intrinsic tryptophan (Trp) in BSA or HSA proteins. Both steady state fluorescence and lifetime measurements showed a significant Forster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) from Trp to the gold nanocluster. Tryptophan lifetimes in the case of protein-protected gold nanoclusters are 2.6 ns and 2.3 ns for BSA and HSA Au clusters while 5.8 ns for native BSA and 5.6 for native HSA. The apparent distances from Trp to gold nanocluster emission center, we estimated as 24.75 Å for BSA and 23.80 Å for HSA. We also studied a potassium iodide (KI) quenching of protein-protected gold nanoclusters and compared with the quenching of BSA and HSA alone. The rates of Trp quenching were smaller in BSA-Au and HSA-Au nanoclusters than in the case of free proteins, which is consistent with shorter lifetime of quenched Trp(s) and lower accessibility for KI. While Trp residues were quenched by KI, the emissions originated from nanoclusters were practically unquenched. In summary, for BSA and HSA Au clusters, we found 55% and 59% energy transfer efficiency respectively from tryoptophan to gold clusters. We believe this interaction can be used to our advantage in terms of developing resonance energy transfer based sensing applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035004
JournalMethods and Applications in Fluorescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • BSA Au clusters
  • FRET
  • Gold clusters
  • HSA Au clusters
  • Tryptophan


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