Principles of conjugating quantum dots to proteins
via carbodiimide chemistry

Fayi Song, Warren CW Chan

Nanotechnology 22 (2011) 494006 | DOI: 10.1088/0957-4484/22/49/494006


The covalent coupling of nanomaterials to bio-recognition molecules is a critical intermediate step in using nanomaterials for biology and medicine. Here we investigate the carbodiimide-mediated conjugation of fluorescent quantum dots to different proteins (eg, immunoglobulin G, bovine serum albumin, and horseradish peroxidase). To enable these studies, we developed a simple method to isolate quantum dot bioconjugates from unconjugated quantum dots. The results show that the reactant concentrations and protein type will impact the overall number of proteins conjugated onto the surfaces of the quantum dots, homogeneity of the protein–quantum dot conjugate population, quantum efficiency, binding avidity, and enzymatic kinetics. We propose general principles that should be followed for the successful coupling of proteins to quantum dots.