NIST logo

Publication Citation: Critical Examination of the Colloidal Particle Model of Globular Proteins

NIST Authors in Bold

Author(s): Prasad S. Sarangapani; Steven D. Hudson; Ronald L. Jones; Jack F. Douglas; Jai A. Pathak;
Title: Critical Examination of the Colloidal Particle Model of Globular Proteins
Published: February 03, 2015
Abstract: Recent studies of globular protein solutions have uniformly adopted a colloidal view of proteins as particles, a perspective that neglects the polymeric primary structure of these biological macromolecules, their intrinsic flexibility and their ability to sample a large configurational space. While the colloidal perspective often serves as a useful idealization in many cases, the macromolecular identity of proteins must reveal itself under thermodynamic conditions in which the native state is no longer stable, such as denaturing solvents and high protein concentrations where macromolecules tend to have screened excluded volume, charge and hydrodynamic interactions. Under extreme pH conditions, charge repulsion interactions within the protein chain can overcome the attractive hydrogen bonding interactions holding it in its native globular state. Conformational changes can therefore be expected to have great significance on the shear viscosity and other rheological properties of protein solutions. These changes are not envisioned in conventional colloidal protein models and we have initiated an investigation of the scattering and rheological properties of model proteins. We initiate this effort by considering Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) since it is a globular protein whose solution properties have also been extensively investigated as a function of pH, temperature, ionic strength, and concentration. As we anticipated, near ultraviolet circular dichroism measurements and intrinsic viscosity measurements clearly indicate that the BSA tertiary structure changes as protein concentration and pH are varied. Our findings point to limited validity of the colloidal protein model and to the need for further consideration and quantification of the effects of conformational changes on protein solution viscosity, protein association and the phase behavior. Small-angle neutron scattering measurements have allowed us to assess how these conformational changes influence protein size
Citation: Biophysical Journal
Volume: 108
Pages: pp. 724 - 737
Keywords: neutron scattering; protein conformation; shear viscosity; globular protein; crowding; protein-protein interactions; polyampholyte; polyelectrolyte
Research Areas: Drugs/Pharmaceuticals, Complex Fluids, Biomolecular Science
DOI:  (Note: May link to a non-U.S. Government webpage)