The construction and optimization of a surface plasmon resonance sensor for the studies of bio-molecular interactions

Meijin Shi, Florida International University


Bio-molecular interactions exist ubiquitously in all biological systems. This dissertation project was to construct a powerful surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensor. The SPR system is used to study bio-molecular interactions in real time and without labeling. Surface plasmon is the oscillation of free electrons in metals coupled with surface electromagnetic waves. These surface electromagnetic waves provide a sensitive probe to study bio-molecular interactions on metal surfaces. This project resulted in the successful construction and optimization of a homemade SPR sensor and the development of several new powerful protocols to study bio-molecular interactions. It was discovered through this project that the limitations of earlier SPR sensors are related not only to the instrumentation design and operating procedures, but also to the complex behaviors of bio-molecules on sensor surfaces that were very different from that in solution. Based on these discoveries the instrumentation design and operating procedures were fully optimized. A set of existing sensor surface treatment protocols were tested and evaluated and new protocols were developed in this project. The new protocols have demonstrated excellent performance to study biomolecular interactions. The optimized home-made SPR sensor was used to study protein-surface interactions. These protein-surface interactions are responsible for many complex organic cell activities. The co-existence of different driving forces and their correlation with the structure of the protein and the surface make the understanding of the fundamental mechanism of protein-surface interactions a very challenging task. Using the improved SPR sensor, the electrostatic interaction and hydrophobic interaction were studied separately. The results of this project directly confirmed the theoretical predictions for electrostatic force between the protein and surface. In addition, this project demonstrated that the strength of the protein-surface hydrophobic interaction does not solely depend on the hydrophobicity as reported earlier. Surface structure also plays a significant role.

Subject Area

Organic chemistry|Biophysics

Recommended Citation

Shi, Meijin, "The construction and optimization of a surface plasmon resonance sensor for the studies of bio-molecular interactions" (2011). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3471600.