A new method for attaching antibodies to protein-repellent zwitterionic polymer brushes aimed at recognizing microorganisms while preventing the nonspecific adsorption of proteins is presented. The poly(sulfobetaine methacrylate) (SBMA) brushes were grafted from α-bromo isobutyryl initiator-functionalized silicon nitride (SixN4, x ≥ 3) surfaces via controlled atom-transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). A trifunctional tris(2-aminoethyl)amine linker was reacted with the terminal alkylbromide of polySBMA chains. N-Hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) functionalization was achieved by reacting the resultant amine-terminated polySBMA brush with bifunctional suberic acid bis(N-hydroxysuccinimide ester). Anti-Salmonella antibodies were subsequently immobilized onto polySBMA-grafted SixN4 surfaces through these NHS linkers. The protein-repellent properties of the polySBMA-grafted surface after antibody attachment were evaluated by exposing the surfaces to Alexa Fluor 488-labeled fibrinogen (FIB) solution (0.1 g·L–1) for 1 h at room temperature. Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) images revealed the minimal adsorption of FIB onto the antibody-coated polySBMA in comparison with that of antibody-coated epoxide monolayers and also bare SixN4 surfaces. Subsequently, the interaction of antibodies immobilized onto polySBMA with SYTO9-stained Salmonella solution without using blocking solution was examined by CLSM. The fluorescent images showed that antibody-coated polySBMA efficiently captured Salmonella with only low background noise as compared to antibody-coated monolayers lacking the polymer brush. Finally, the antibody-coated polySBMA surfaces were exposed to a mixture of Alexa Fluor 647-labeled FIB and Salmonella without the prior use of a blocking solution to evaluate the ability of the surfaces to capture bacteria while simultaneously repelling proteins. The fluorescent images showed the capture of Salmonella with no adsorption of FIB as compared to antibody-coated epoxide surfaces, demonstrating the potential of the zwitterionic layer in preventing the nonspecific adsorption of the proteins during the detection of bacteria in complex matrices.
Nguyen, A. T., Baggerman, J., Paulusse, J. M. J., Zuilhof, H., & van Rijn, C. J. M. (2012). Bioconjugation of protein-repellent zwitterionic polymer brushes grafted from silicon nitride. Langmuir, 28(1), 604-610. https://doi.org/10.1021/la2031363