Sens Diagn. 2022 Aug 29;1(6):1198-1208. doi: 10.1039/d2sd00145d. eCollection 2022 Nov 14.
Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is one of the most utilized serological methods to diagnose and identify etiologic agents of many infectious diseases and other physiologically important analytes. ELISA can be used either alone or adjunct to other diagnostic methods such as molecular arrays, and other serological techniques. Most ELISA assays utilize reagents that are proteinaceous in nature, which are not very stable and require cold-chain transport systems. Development of a desirable immunoassay requires stability of reagents used and its ability to be stored at room temperature without sacrificing the activity of the reagents or the protein of interest. Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are a rapidly emerging and evolving class of porous polymeric materials used in a variety of biosensor applications. In this study, we introduce the use of MOFs to stabilize a universal reporter fusion protein, specifically, avidin-like protein (Tam-avidin2) and the small bioluminescent protein Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) forming the fusion reporter, tamavidin2-Gluc (TA2-Gluc). This fusion protein serves as a universal reporter for any assays that utilize biotin-avidin binding strategy. Using SARS-CoV2 S1 spike antigen as the model target antigen, we demonstrated that encapsulation of TA2-Gluc fusion protein using a nano-porous material, zeolitic imidazolate framework-8 (ZIF-8), allows us to store and preserve this reporter protein at room temperature for over 6 months and use it as a reporter for an ELISA assay. Our optimized assay was validated demonstrating a 0.26 μg mL-1 limit of detection, high reproducibility of assay over days, detection of spiked non-virulent SARS-COV2 pseudovirus in real sample matrix, and detection in real COVID-19 infected individuals. This result can lead to the utilization of our TA2-Gluc fusion protein reporter with other assays and potentially in diagnostic technologies in a point-of-care setting.