Characterization of Proteins by Size-Exclusion Chromatography Coupled to Multi-Angle Light Scattering (SEC-MALS).

Abstract

Analytical size-exclusion chromatography (SEC), commonly used for the determination of the molecular weight of proteins and protein-protein complexes in solution, is a relative technique that relies on the elution volume of the analyte to estimate molecular weight. When the protein is not globular or undergoes non-ideal column interactions, the calibration curve based on protein standards is invalid, and the molecular weight determined from elution volume is incorrect. Multi-angle light scattering (MALS) is an absolute technique that determines the molecular weight of an analyte in solution from basic physical equations. The combination of SEC for separation with MALS for analysis constitutes a versatile, reliable means for characterizing solutions of one or more protein species including monomers, native oligomers or aggregates, and heterocomplexes. Since the measurement is performed at each elution volume, SEC-MALS can determine if an eluting peak is homogeneous or heterogeneous and distinguish between a fixed molecular weight distribution versus dynamic equilibrium. Analysis of modified proteins such as glycoproteins or lipoproteins, or conjugates such as detergent-solubilized membrane proteins, is also possible. Hence, SEC-MALS is a critical tool for the protein chemist who must confirm the biophysical properties and solution behavior of molecules produced for biological or biotechnological research. This protocol for SEC-MALS analyzes the molecular weight and size of pure protein monomers and aggregates. The data acquired serve as a foundation for further SEC-MALS analyses including those of complexes, glycoproteins and surfactant-bound membrane proteins.

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