Sensing Enzyme Activation Heat Capacity at the Single-Molecule Level Using Gold-Nanorod-Based Optical Whispering Gallery Modes

Sivaraman Subramanian, Hannah Jones, Simona Frustaci, Samuel Winter, Marc van der Kamp, Vickery L Arcus, Christopher Pudney, Frank Vollmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (SciVal)


Here, we report a label-free gold nanoparticle-based single-molecule optical platform to study the immobilization, activity, and thermodynamics of single enzymes. The sensor uses plasmonic gold nanoparticles coupled to optical whispering gallery modes (WGMs) to probe enzyme conformational dynamics during turnover at a microsecond time resolution. Using a glucosidase enzyme as the model system, we explore the temperature dependence of the enzyme turnover at the single-molecule (SM) level. A recent physical model for understanding enzyme temperature dependencies (macromolecular rate theory; MMRT) has emerged as a powerful tool to study the relationship between enzyme turnover and thermodynamics. Using WGMs, SM enzyme measurements enable us to accurately track turnover as a function of conformational changes and therefore to quantitatively probe the key feature of the MMRT model, the activation heat capacity, at the ultimate level of SM. Our data shows that WGMs are extraordinarily sensitive to protein conformational change and can discern both multiple steps with turnover as well as microscopic conformational substates within those steps. The temperature dependence studies show that the MMRT model can be applied to a range of steps within turnover at the SM scale that is associated with conformational change. Our study validates the notion that MMRT captures differences in dynamics between states. The WGM sensors provide a platform for the quantitative analysis of SM activation heat capacity, applying MMRT to the label-free sensing of microsecond substates of active enzymes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberacsanm.1c00176
Pages (from-to)4576–4583
JournalACS Applied Nano Materials
Issue number5
Early online date29 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2021


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