Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Protein Expr Purif. 1997 Nov;11(2):149-61.

Three phase partitioning: concentration and purification of proteins.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 3200, South Africa.


Three phase partitioning (TPP) uses t-butanol and ammonium sulfate to precipitate enzymes and proteins from aqueous solutions. The method is useful both upstream with crude samples and downstream where a scaleable simple step is needed. About 25 enzymes and proteins have been isolated by various laboratories using TPP-t-butanol. The relation of t-butanol used in TPP, with n-butanol used as an extraction agent from Morton's work, is reviewed. Some t-butanol appears bound to TPP-precipitated proteins which are actually protein-t-butanol coprecipitates. They float above denser aqueous salts because bound t-butanol increases their buoyancy, similar to the behavior of many lipoproteins. On redissolving TPP-precipitated enzymes, total and specific activities usually are regained and sometimes increased. Sulfate ion-in large concentrations-likely exerts itself through its kosmotropic action as in conventional salting out. t-Butanol likewise appears to be a kosmotrope and crowding agent at room temperature or above, whereas C1 and C2 cosolvents (e.g., ethanol) do not so behave except at near or below zero temperatures. However, kosmotropy is not the entire origin of TPP, nor probably of conventional salting out. Electrostatic forces, capacity to force protein conformation tightening and protein hydration shifts, also contribute. Electrostatic forces, and the tendency for salt ions to bind and tighten protein molecule conformation, are indicated by the sharp pH dependency of both conventional salting out and TPP, around pH regions where proteins undergo conformation changes. Sulfate anion is densely-perhaps extraordinarily-hydrated, adding much to its effective size, and therefore it has a tendency to crowd or exclude proteins, when sulfate concentrations are in the 0.5 to 3 M range.

Copyright 1997 Academic Press.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk