Upconversion Nanophosphor: An Efficient Phosphopeptides-Recognizing Matrix and Luminescence Resonance Energy Transfer Donor for Robust Detection of Protein Kinase Activity

Abstract

Protein kinases play important regulatory roles in intracellular signal transduction pathways. The aberrant activities of protein kinases are closely associated with the development of various diseases, which necessitates the development of practical and sensitive assays for monitoring protein kinase activities as well as for screening of potential kinase-targeted drugs. We demonstrate here a robust luminescence resonance energy transfer (LRET)-based protein kinase assay by using NaYF<sub>4</sub>:Yb,Er, one of the most efficient upconversion nanophosphors (UCNPs), as an autofluorescence-free LRET donor and a tetramethylrhodamine (TAMRA)-labeled substrate peptide as the acceptor. Fascinatingly, besides acting as the LRET donor, NaYF<sub>4</sub>:Yb,Er UCNPs also serve as the phosphopeptide-recognizing matrix because the intrinsic rare earth ions of UCNPs can specifically capture the fluorescent phosphopeptides catalyzed by protein kinases over the unphosphorylated ones. Therefore, a sensitive and generic protein kinase assay is developed in an extremely simple mix-and-read format without any requirement of surface modification, substrate immobilization, separation, or washing steps, showing great potential in protein kinases-related clinical diagnosis and drug discovery. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report by use of rare earth-doped UCNPs as both the phospho-recognizing and signal reporting elements for protein kinase analysis

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