Electron transfer behaviour of biological macromolecules towards the single-molecule level

Jingdong Zhang, Mikala Grubb, Allan Glargaard Hansen, A.M. Kuznetsov, Anja Boisen, Hainer Wackerbarth, Jens Ulstrup

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Redox metalloproteins immobilized on metallic surfaces in contact with aqueous biological media are important in many areas of pure and applied sciences. Redox metalloprotein films are currently being addressed by new approaches where biotechnology including modified and synthetic proteins is combined with state-of-the-art physical electrochemistry with emphasis on single-crystal, atomically planar electrode surfaces, in situ scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) and other surface techniques. These approaches have brought bioelectrochemistry important steps forward towards the nanoscale and single-molecule levels.We discuss here these advances with reference to two specific redox metalloproteins, the blue single-copper protein Pseudomonas aeruginosa azurin and the single-haem protein Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast cytochrome c, and a short oligonucleotide. Both proteins can be immobilized on Au(111) by chemisorption via exposed sulfur-containing residues. Voltammetric, interfacial capacitance, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and microcantilever sensor data, together with in situ STM with single-molecule resolution, all point to a coherent view of monolayer organization with protein electron transfer (ET) function retained. In situ STM can also address the microscopic mechanisms for electron tunnelling through the biomolecules and offers novel notions such as coherent multi-ET between the substrate and tip via the molecular redox levels. This differs in important respects from electrochemical ET at a single metal/electrolyte interface. Similar data for a short oligonucleotide immobilized on Au(111) show that oligonucleotides can be characterized with comparable detail, with novel perspectives for addressing DNA electronic conduction mechanisms and for biological screening towards the single-molecule level.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number18
Pages (from-to)S1873-S1890
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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