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Biophys Chem. 1999 Sep 13;81(1):59-80.

Protein adsorption at the oil/water interface: characterization of adsorption kinetics by dynamic interfacial tension measurements.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


The dynamics of protein adsorption at an oil/water interface are examined over time scales ranging from seconds to several hours. The pendant drop technique is used to determine the dynamic interfacial tension of several proteins at the heptane/aqueous buffer interface. The kinetics of adsorption of these proteins are interpreted from tension/log time plots, which often display three distinct regimes. (I) Diffusion and protein interfacial affinity determine the duration of an initial induction period of minimal tension reduction. A comparison of surface pressure profiles at the oil/water and air/water interface reveals the role of interfacial conformational changes in the early stages of adsorption. (II) Continued rearrangement defines the second regime, where the resulting number of interfacial contacts per protein molecule causes a steep tension decline. (III) The final regime occurs upon monolayer coverage, and is attributed to continued relaxation of the adsorbed layer and possible build-up of multilayers. Denaturation of proteins by urea in the bulk phase is shown to affect early regimes.

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