Cysteine-Encapsulated Liposome for Investigating Biomolecular Interactions at Lipid Membranes

Trang Thi Thuy Nguyen, Seungjoo Haam, Joon Seo Park, Sang Wha Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of a strategy to investigate interfacial phenomena at lipid membranes is practically useful because most essential biomolecular interactions occur at cell membranes. In this study, a colorimetric method based on cysteine-encapsulated liposomes was examined using gold nanoparticles as a probe to provide a platform to report an enzymatic activity at lipid membranes. The cysteine-encapsulated liposomes were prepared with varying ratios of 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) and cholesterol through the hydration of lipid films and extrusions in the presence of cysteine. The size, composition, and stability of resulting liposomes were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), dynamic light scattering (DLS), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and UV-vis spectrophotometry. The results showed that the increased cholesterol content improved the stability of liposomes, and the liposomes were formulated with 60 mol % cholesterol for the subsequent experiments. Triton X-100 was tested to disrupt the lipid membranes to release the encapsulated cysteine from the liposomes. Cysteine can induce the aggregation of gold nanoparticles accompanying a color change, and the colorimetric response of gold nanoparticles to the released cysteine was investigated in various media. Except in buffer solutions at around pH 5, the cysteine-encapsulated liposomes showed the color change of gold nanoparticles only after being incubated with Triton X-100. Finally, the cysteine-encapsulated liposomal platform was tested to report the enzymatic activity of phospholipase A2 that hydrolyzes phospholipids in the membrane. The hydrolysis of phospholipids triggered the release of cysteine from the liposomes, and the released cysteine was successfully detected by monitoring the distinct red-to-blue color change of gold nanoparticles. The presence of phospholipase A2 was also confirmed by the appearance of a peak around 690 nm in the UV-vis spectra, which is caused by the cysteine-induced aggregation of gold nanoparticles. The results demonstrated that the cysteine-encapsulated liposome has the potential to be used to investigate biological interactions occurring at lipid membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10566
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Sept

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2021R1A6A1A03038996). This research was supported by National R&D Programs of the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science & ICT (NRF-2021M3E5E3080565). J.-S.P. acknowledges the sabbatical support provided by Eastern University that enabled this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Cysteine-Encapsulated Liposome for Investigating Biomolecular Interactions at Lipid Membranes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this