The development of novel methods to detect mercury is of paramount importance owing to the impact of this metal on human health and the environment. We observed that flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and its helical assembly with a single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) selectively bind Hg 2+ arising from HgCl 2 and MeHgCl. Absorption spectroscopic studies show that FMN preferentially forms a 2:1 rather than a 1:1 complex with Hg 2+ at high FMN concentrations. On the basis of the analogy to the thymine-Hg-thymine complex, it is proposed that the 2:1 complex between FMN and Hg 2+ comprises a Hg-bridged pair of FMN groups, regardless of the presence of SWNT. Upon addition of as little as a few hundred nanomoles of Hg 2+ , both FMN and FMN-SWNT exhibit absorption and photoluminescence (PL) changes. Moreover, FMN-SWNT displays simultaneous multiple sigmoidal changes in PL of SWNT tubes having different chiral vectors. Assessment of binding affinities using the Hill equation suggests that 2:1 and 1:1 complexes form between Hg 2+ and FMN groups on the FMN-SWNT. Theoretical calculations indicate that optical changes of the FMN-SWNT originate from Hg-mediated conformational changes occurring on the helical array of FMN on the SWNT. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy revealed that the presence of Hg 2+ in complexes with the FMN-SWNT enables visualization of helical periodic undulation of FMN groups along SWNT without the need for staining. Circular dichroism (CD) study revealed that FMN-SWNT whose CD signal mainly originates from FMN decreases dichroic bands upon the addition of Hg 2+ owing to the formation of a centrosymmetric FMN-Hg-FMN triad on SWNT. The binding mode specificity and multimodal changes observed in response to Hg 2+ ions suggest that systems based on FMN-SWNT can serve as in vivo NIR beacons for the detection of various mercury derivatives.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank S. Nam for assistance with the initial phase of the study. This research was mainly financially supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (2017R1D1A1A09000589). The computational calculation was supported by the Supercomputing Center/Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) with supercomputing resources including the technical support.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)