37. Fluorescent proteins as efficient tools for evaluating the surface

Surface PEGylation is essential for preventing non-specific binding of biomolecules when silica nanoparticles are utilized for in vivo applications. Methods for installing poly(ethylene glycol) on a silica surface have been widely explored but varies from study to study. Because there is a lack of a satisfactory method for evaluating the properties of silica surface after PEGylation, the prepared nanoparticles are not fully characterized before use. In some cases, even non-PEGylated silica nanoparticles were produced, which is unfortunately not recognized by the end-user. In this work, a fluorescent protein was employed, which acts as a sensitive material for evaluating the surface protein adsorption properties of silica nanoparticles. Eleven different methods were systematically investigated for their reaction efficiency towards surface PEGylation. Results showed that both reaction conditions (including pH, catalyst) and surface functional groups of parent silica nanoparticles play critical roles in producing fully PEGylated silica nanoparticles. Great care needs to be taken in choosing the proper coupling chemistry for surface PEGylation. The data and method shown here will guarantee high-quality PEGylated silica nanoparticles to be produced and guide their applications in biology, chemistry, industry and medicine.