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Nat Protoc. 2007;2(9):2212-21.

The use of differential scanning fluorimetry to detect ligand interactions that promote protein stability.

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  • 1Structural Genomics Consortium, Botnar Research Centre, Oxford University, Oxford, UK.


Differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF) is a rapid and inexpensive screening method to identify low-molecular-weight ligands that bind and stabilize purified proteins. The temperature at which a protein unfolds is measured by an increase in the fluorescence of a dye with affinity for hydrophobic parts of the protein, which are exposed as the protein unfolds. A simple fitting procedure allows quick calculation of the transition midpoint; the difference in the temperature of this midpoint in the presence and absence of ligand is related to the binding affinity of the small molecule, which can be a low-molecular-weight compound, a peptide or a nucleic acid. DSF is best performed using a conventional real-time PCR instrument. Ligand solutions from a storage plate are added to a solution of protein and dye, distributed into the wells of the PCR plate and fluorescence intensity measured as the temperature is raised gradually. Results can be obtained in a single day.

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