We have developed a simple, highly sensitive and specific optical waveguide sensor for the detection of multivalent proteins. The optical biosensor is based on optically tagged glycolipid receptors embedded within a fluid phospholipid bilayer membrane formed upon the surface of a planar optical waveguide. Binding of multivalent cholera toxin triggers a fluorescence resonance energy transfer that results in a two-color optical change that is monitored by measurement of emitted luminescence above the waveguide surface. The sensor approach is highly sensitive and specific and requires no additional reagents and washing steps. Demonstration of protein-receptor recognition by use of planar optical waveguides provides a path forward for the development of fieldable miniaturized biosensor arrays.
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