Synthesis, Characterization, and Selective Delivery of DARPin-Gold Nanoparticle Conjugates to Cancer Cells
We demonstrate that the designed ankyrin repeat protein (DARPin)-9-29, which specifically targets human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER 2), binds tightly to gold nanoparticles (GNPs). Binding of the protein strongly increases the colloidal stability of the particles. The results of experimental analysis and molecular dynamics simulations show that approximately 35 DARPin-9-29 molecules are bound to the surface of a 5 nm GNP and that the binding does not involve the receptor-binding domain of the protein. The confocal fluorescent microscopy studies show that the DARPin-coated GNP conjugate specifically interacts with the surface of human cancer cells overexpressing epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) and enters the cells by endocytosis. The high stability under physiological conditions and high affinity to the receptors overexpressed by cancer cells make conjugates of plasmonic gold nanostructures with DARPin molecules promising candidates for cancer therapy.