Biomimetic estrogen sensor based on soft colloidal probes

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • David Rettke - , Saxony University of Cooperative Education (Author)
  • Florian Seufert - , Saxony University of Cooperative Education (Author)
  • Julia Döring - , Institute of Genetics (Author)
  • Kai Ostermann - , Institute of Genetics (Author)
  • Dimitri Wilms - , Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (Author)
  • Stephan Schmidt - , Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (Author)
  • Tilo Pompe - , Saxony University of Cooperative Education (Author)


An increasing number of reports substantiate the link between emerging estrogenic pollutants and a variety of adverse effects including developmental disorders, infertility, cancer and neurological disorders, threatening public health as well as environment. The detection of the diverse classes of estrogenic and antiestrogenic substances is still challenging due to analytics which needs to cover the whole range of compounds acting on estrogen receptors and the complex estrogen pathways. In this proof-of-concept study, we report a novel biomimetic detection scheme based on the specific recognition of estrogenic ligands by estrogen sulfotransferase 1E1 (SULT1E1), which acts as one of the key enzymes in estrogen homeostasis. SULT1E1 was site-specifically immobilized on transparent glass slides via a hexahistidine-tag in a multi-step procedure. Soft colloidal probes (SCPs) covalently functionalized with ligands of SULT1E1, namely estrone and estradiol 17-(β-D-glucuronide), served as adhesion probes. The various functionalization steps were analyzed and optimized using epifluorescence, confocal laser scanning as well as reflection interference contrast microscopy (RICM). A competitive SCP binding assay probing the elastic SCP deformation driven by the specific interaction between SCPs and the SULT1E1 decorated glass slides was employed in conjunction with an optical readout by RICM and automated image analysis to detect estrogenic compounds by their inhibition of SCP adhesion. This sensing concept has demonstrated exceptional specificity for estrogenic steroid compounds compared to structurally related substance classes and provides promising options for multiplexed assays and incorporation of other proteins of the endocrine system to fully capture the whole ensemble of hormonally active substances.


Original languageEnglish
Article number113506
Number of pages9
JournalBiosensors & bioelectronics
Issue number192
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021

External IDs

Scopus 85111247776
PubMed 34325320
ORCID /0000-0001-7717-4381/work/142252484


Sustainable Development Goals


  • Biomimetics, Biosensing Techniques, Estradiol, Estrogens, Receptors, Estrogen

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