The influence of promoter and of electrode material on the cyclic voltammetry of Pisum sativum plastocyanin

D. L. Johnson, C. J. Maxwell, D. Losic, J. G. Shapter, L. L. Martin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The reversible cyclic voltammetry of pea plastocyanin (Pisum sativum) was studied with a wide range of electrodes: edge-oriented pyrolytic graphite (PGE), glassy carbon (GCE), gold (Au) and platinum (Pt) electrodes. Plastocyanin was coated onto the electrode surface by exploiting the electrostatic interaction between the negatively charged protein and a wide range of positively charged promoters. The effect of the redox response with an extended range of promoters, including poly-L-lysine, polymyxin B, neomycin, tobramycin, geneticin, spermine and spermidine, were included in this study. The resulting cyclic voltammograms reveal that the observed midpoint potential for plastocyanin can be shifted significantly depending on the choice of promoter. The stability of the negatively charged plastocyanin-promoter layer on an electrode was gauged by the rate of bulk diffusion of the protein from the immobilised film into the solution. Reversible cyclic voltammograms were obtained using edge-oriented pyrolytic graphite (PGE) and glassy carbon electrodes (GCE) with all promoters; however, platinum and gold electrodes were unable to sustain a defined redox response. The combination of pyrolytic graphite electrode/poly-L-lysine/plastocyanin was found to be the most stable combination, with a redox response which remained well defined in solution for more than 1 h at pH 7.0. The midpoint potentials obtained in this manner differed between the two graphite electrodes PGE and GCE using poly-L-lysine as the promoter. This effect was in addition to the expected pH dependence of the midpoint potential for plastocyanin and the results indicated that the pKa for plastocyanin on PGE was 4.94 compared to that on GCE of 4.66. It is concluded that both the electrode material and the nature of the promoter can influence the position of the redox potentials for proteins measured in vitro. This study extends the range of biogenic promoters used in combination with electrode materials. Thus, we can begin to develop a more comprehensive understanding of electrode-protein interactions and draw conclusions as to metalloprotein function, in vivo. To support these studies, we have sought information as to the nature of the electrode/promoter/protein interaction using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) to study both the promoter and the plastocyanin protein on a gold surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-147
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cyclic voltammetry
  • Metalloproteins
  • Plastocyanin
  • Promoters
  • Redox potential
  • Scanning tunneling microscopy


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