Title: Correlation coefficient-directed label-free characterization of native proteins by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy
Authors: Ping-Shi Wang, Hao Ma* , Sen Yan, Xinyu Lu, Hui Tang, Xiao-Han Xi, Xiao-Hui Peng, Yajun Huang, Yi-Fan Bao, Mao-Feng Cao, Huimeng Wang, Jinglin Huang, Guokun Liu, Xiang Wang* and Bin Ren*
Abstract: Investigation of proteins in their native state is the core of proteomics towards better understanding of their structures and functions. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) has shown its unique advantages in protein characterization with fingerprint information and high sensitivity, which makes it a promising tool for proteomics. It is still challenging to obtain SERS spectra of proteins in the native state and evaluate the native degree. Here, we constructed 3D physiological hotspots for a label-free dynamic SERS characterization of a native protein with iodide-modified 140 nm Au nanoparticles. We further introduced the correlation coefficient to quantitatively evaluate the variation of the native degree, whose quantitative nature allows us to explicitly investigate the Hofmeister effect on the protein structure. We realized the classification of a protein of SARS-CoV-2 variants in 15 min, which has not been achieved before. This study offers an effective tool for tracking the dynamic structure of proteins and biomedical research.