Identification of snake venoms is a vital step in the treatment of fatal snakebites. In this study, we use the gold–thiolate interaction between a cysteine residue and gold nanoparticles to establish a SERS method for the differentiation of the venoms of Trimeresurus stejnegeri and Bungarus multicinctus. We confirm the preference of gold nanoparticles over silver for the SERS study of snake venoms by a binding experiment that also functions to differentiate the two venom samples by colorimetry and UV-vis spectroscopy. We report the SERS spectra of Trimeresurus stejnegeri and Bungarus multicinctus venoms for the first time. The spectra display distinct SERS signatures of the snake venoms on bone-shaped gold nanoparticles made with a house recipe. These signatures correlate to selected segments of the venom proteins due to the anchoring effect of the gold-cysteine bond. The method is quick as it accomplishes in situ isolation of the structure of interest to avoid tedious purification of the samples. The location of the interactive cysteine residue makes a novel characteristic of proteins in general.
Journal of Material Chemistry B 8(47), p.10744-10753