While nanoparticle conjugates have been used in the past as immuno markers and cellular uptake tracers, applications in a broader biomedical discipline are greatly limited by their instability in aqueous conditions. Here we present a “bio-mimic” approach for generating highly stable, water-soluble gold nanoparticles that are passivated with collagen mimetic peptides (CMPs). CMPs are non-ionic peptides composed of Pro-Hyp-Gly trimer repeats, a representative peptide sequence of natural collagen molecules. The CMP-Au nanoparticle conjugates are stable in a wide range of pH and can endure saturated sodium chloride solution without aggregating. The CMP-Au can be freeze-dried and subsequently re-dissolved to yield a stable dispersion. UV-vis spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, and transmission electron microscopy were used to characterize the CMP-Au nanoparticle conjugates. Stability of nanoparticles was evaluated with respect to the peptide length and sequence. The CMP-Au nanoparticle conjugates can be readily derivatized with other biomolecules using the carboxyl groups at the C-termini of the peptide chains. Due to the superb stability, the CMP-Au nanoparticle conjugates can be used in applications that may involve relatively harsh solvent condition such as high ionic strength, or for situations that may involve wide range of solvent polarity.
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