Protein kinases are cellular switches that mediate phosphorylation of proteins. Abnormal phosphorylation of proteins is associated with lethal diseases such as cancer. In the pharmaceutical industry, protein kinases have become an important class of drug targets. This study reports a versatile approach for the detection of protein phosphorylation. The change in charge of the myelin basic protein upon phosphorylation by the protein kinase C-alpha (PKC-α) in the presence of adenosine 5'-[γ-thio] triphosphate (ATP-S) was detected on gold metal-insulator-semiconductor (Au-MIS) capacitor structures. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) can then be attached to the thio-phosphorylated proteins, forming a Au-film/AuNP plasmonic couple. This was detected by a localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) technique alongside MIS capacitance. All reactions were validated using surface plasmon resonance technique and the interaction of AuNPs with the thio-phosphorylated proteins quantified by quartz crystal microbalance. The plasmonic coupling was also visualized by simulations using finite element analysis. The use of this approach in drug discovery applications was demonstrated by evaluating the response in the presence of a known inhibitor of PKC-α kinase. LSPR and MIS on a single platform act as a cross check mechanism for validating kinase activity and make the system robust to test novel inhibitors.
- Drug discovery
- Localized surface plasmon resonance
- Protein phosphorylation