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The mechanism of charge propagation in "ion channel sensors" (ICSs) consisting of gold electrodes modified with a layer of charged proteins and highly charged redox-active marker ions in solution was investigated by electrochemical techniques, QCM and AFM. The study is based on seven proteins (concanavalin A, cytochrome c, glucose oxidase, lysozyme, thyroglobulin, catalase, aldolase, and EF1-ATPase) in combination with seven electroactive marker ions ([Fe(CN)6]3-, [Fe(CN)6]4-, [Ru(NH3)6]3+, mono-, di-, and trimeric viologens), as well as a series of suppressor and enhancer ions leading to the following general statements: (i) electrostatic binding of charged marker ions to the domains of the protein is a prerequisite for an electrochemical current and (ii) charge propagation through the layer consists of electron hopping along surface-confined marker ions into the pores between adsorbed proteins. It is further shown that (iii) marker ions and suppressor ions with identical charge compete for oppositely charged sites on the protein domain, (iv) electrostatically bound multilayers of marker or enhancer ions with alternating charge form on a charged protein domain, and (v) self-exchange and exergonic ET catalysis between adsorbed marker ions and marker ions in solution take place. In addition to fundamental insight into the mechanism of charge propagation, valuable information for the design, optimization, and tailoring of new biosensors based on the ICS concept is demonstrated by the current findings.
PMID: 16089479 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]