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Anal Chim Acta. 2010 Aug 24;675(2):191-8. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2010.07.016. Epub 2010 Jul 21.

Thermal aggregation of bovine serum albumin studied by asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation.

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  • 1Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, POB 55 (A.I. Virtasen aukio 1), FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


The use of asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation (AsFlFFF) in the study of heat-induced aggregation of proteins is demonstrated with bovine serum albumin (BSA) as a model analyte. The hydrodynamic diameter (d(h)), the molar mass of heat-induced aggregates, and the radius of gyration (R(g)) were calculated in order to get more detailed understanding of the conformational changes of BSA upon heating. The hydrodynamic diameter of native BSA at ambient temperature was approximately 7 nm. The particle size was relatively stable up to 60 degrees C; above 63 degrees C, however, BSA underwent aggregation (growth of hydrodynamic diameter). The hydrodynamic diameters of the aggregated particles, heated to 80 degrees C, ranged from 15 to 149 nm depending on the BSA concentration, duration of incubation, and the ionic strength of the solvent. Heating of BSA in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate (1.7 or 17 mM) did not lead to aggregation. The heat-induced aggregates were characterized in terms of their molar mass and particle size together with their respective distributions with a hyphenated technique consisting of an asymmetrical field-flow fractionation device and a multi-angle light scattering detector and a UV-detector. The carrier solution comprised 8.5 mM phosphate and 150 mM sodium chloride at pH 7.4. The weight-average molar mass (M(w)) of native BSA at ambient temperature is 6.6x10(4) g mol(-1). Incubation of solutions with BSA concentrations of 1.0 and 2.5 mg mL(-1) at 80 degrees C for 1 h resulted in aggregates with M(w) 1.2x10(6) and 1.9x10(6) g mol(-1), respectively. The average radius of gyration and the average hydrodynamic radius of the heat-induced aggregate samples were calculated and compared to the values obtained from the size distributions measured by AsFlFFF. For comparison static light scattering measurements were carried out and the corresponding average molar mass distributions of solutions with BSA concentrations of 1.0 and 2.5 mg mL(-1) at 80 degrees C for 1 h gave aggregates with M(w) 1.7x10(6) and 3.5x10(6) g mol(-1), respectively.

2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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