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Anal Biochem. 2003 Sep 1;320(1):104-24.

On the analysis of protein self-association by sedimentation velocity analytical ultracentrifugation.

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Protein Biophysics Resource, Division of Bioengineering and Physical Science, ORS, OD, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Analytical ultracentrifugation is one of the classical techniques for the study of protein interactions and protein self-association. Recent instrumental and computational developments have significantly enhanced this methodology. In this paper, new tools for the analysis of protein self-association by sedimentation velocity are developed, their statistical properties are examined, and considerations for optimal experimental design are discussed. A traditional strategy is the analysis of the isotherm of weight-average sedimentation coefficients s(w) as a function of protein concentration. From theoretical considerations, it is shown that integration of any differential sedimentation coefficient distribution c(s), ls-g(*)(s), or g(s(*)) can give a thermodynamically well-defined isotherm, as long as it provides a good model for the sedimentation profiles. To test this condition for the g(s(*)) distribution, a back-transform into the original data space is proposed. Deconvoluting diffusion in the sedimentation coefficient distribution c(s) can be advantageous to identify species that do not participate in the association. Because of the large number of scans that can be analyzed in the c(s) approach, its s(w) values are very precise and allow extension of the isotherm to very low concentrations. For all differential sedimentation coefficients, corrections are derived for the slowing of the sedimentation boundaries caused by radial dilution. As an alternative to the interpretation of the isotherm of the weight-average s value, direct global modeling of several sedimentation experiments with Lamm equation solutions was studied. For this purpose, a new software SEDPHAT is introduced, allowing the global analysis of several sedimentation velocity and equilibrium experiments. In this approach, information from the shape of the sedimentation profiles is exploited, which permits the identification of the association scheme and requires fewer experiments to precisely characterize the association. Further, under suitable conditions, fractions of incompetent material that are not part of the reversible equilibrium can be detected.

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