The existence of surface guided electromagnetic waves has been theoretically predicted from Maxwells equations and investigated during the first decades of the 20th century. However, it is only since the late 1960s that they have attracted the interest of surface physicists and earned the moniker of “surface plasmon”. With the advent of commercially available instruments and well established theories, the technique has been used to study a wide variety of biochemical and biotechnological phenomena. Spectral response of the resonance condition serves as a sensitive indicator of the optical properties of thin films immobilized within a wavelength of the surface. This enhanced surface sensitivity has provided a boon to the surface sciences, and fosters collaboration between surface chemistry, physics and the ongoing biological and biotechnological revolution. Since then, techniques based on surface plasmons such as Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR), SPR Imaging, Plasmon Waveguide Resonance (PWR) and others, have been increasingly used to determine the affinity and kinetics of a wide variety of real time molecular interactions such as protein-protein, lipid-protein and ligand-protein, without the need for a molecular tag or label. The physical-chemical methodologies used to immobilize membranes at the surface of these optical devices are reviewed, pointing out advantages and limitations of each method. The paper serves to summarize both historical and more recent developments of these technologies for investigating structure-function aspects of these molecular interactions, and regulation of specific events in signal transduction by Gprotein coupled receptors (GPCRs).
Keywords: surface plasmon resonance, surface plasmon resonance imaging, plasmon waveguide resonance, g-protein coupled receptors, human delta opioid receptor, rhodopsin, signal transduction, thin films
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