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New Publication in Langmuir

Published on July 25, 2022 Updated on July 25, 2022

Bifunctional Calix[4]arene-Coated Gold Nanoparticles for Orthogonal Conjugation. Maurice Retout, Benedetta Cornelio, Gilles Bruylants and Ivan Jabin, Langmuir (2022). First published: 22 July 2022



Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are currently intensively exploited in the biomedical field as they possess interesting chemical and optical properties. Although their synthesis is well-known, their controlled surface modification with defined densities of ligands such as peptides, DNA, or antibodies remains challenging and has generally to be optimized case by case. This is particularly true for applications like in vivo drug delivery that require AuNPs with multiple ligands, for example a targeting ligand and a drug in well-defined proportions. In this context, we aimed to develop a calixarene-modification strategy that would allow the controlled orthogonal conjugation of AuNPs, respectively, via amide bond formation and copper(I)-catalyzed azide–alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC). To do this, we synthesized a calix[4]arene-tetradiazonium salt bearing four PEG chains ended by an alkyne group (C1) and, after optimization of its grafting on 20 nm AuNPs, we demonstrated that CuAAC can be used to conjugate an azide containing dye (N3-cya7.5). It was observed that AuNPs coated with C1 (AuNPs-C1) can be conjugated to approximately 600 N3-cya7.5 that is much higher than the value obtained for AuNPs decorated with traditional thiolated PEG ligands terminated by an alkyne group. The control over the number of molecules conjugated via CuAAC was even possible by incorporating a non-functional calixarene (C2) into the coating layer. We then combined C1 with a calix[4]arene-tetradiazonium salt bearing four carboxyl groups (C3) that allows conjugation of an amine (NH2-cya7.5) containing dye. The conjugation potential of these bifunctional AuNPs-C1/C3 was quantified by UV–vis spectroscopy: AuNPs decorated with equal amount of C1 and C3 could be conjugated to approximately 350 NH2-dyes and 300 N3-dyes using successively amide bond formation and CuAAC, demonstrating the control over the orthogonal conjugation. Such nanoconstructs could benefit to anyone in the need of a controlled modification of AuNPs with two different molecules via two different chemistries.