Covalent Functionalization of Bovine Serum Albumin with Graphene Quantum Dots for Stereospecific Molecular Recognition

Stereospecific molecular recognition with simple and easily available proteins is of significant importance in life science and biomaterial science. Herein, we report on a chiral sensing platform, graphene quantum dots (GQDs)-functionalized bovine serum albumin (BSA), for chiral recognition of tryptophan (Trp) isomers. Amidation reaction between BSA and GQDs was directly responsible for the introduction of GQDs to BSA, resulting in significant changes in the spatial configuration of BSA and the exposure of more chiral sites at the protein surface. The BSA–GQDs-based chiral sensor exhibited good biomolecular homochirality in the recognition of Trp isomers, and the higher affinity of BSA–GQDs toward l-Trp than its isomer, d-Trp, was also revealed by density functional theory (DFT) considering the possible hydrogen bonds between the Trp isomers and the solvent-accessible residues of BSA.