Characterization of globular protein solutions by dynamic light scattering, electrophoretic mobility, and viscosity measurements

Langmuir. 2008 Jun 1;24(13):6866-72. doi: 10.1021/la800548p. Epub 2008 May 30.


In this work, physicochemical properties of two globular proteinsbovine serum albumin (BSA) having a molecular weight of 67 kDa and human serum albumin (HSA) having a molecular weight of 69 kDawere characterized. The bulk characteristics of these proteins involved the diffusion coefficient (hydrodynamic radius), electrophoretic mobility, and dynamic viscosity as a function of protein solution concentration for various pH values. The hydrodynamic radius data suggested an association of protein molecules, most probably forming compact dimers. Using the hydrodynamic diameter and the electropheretic mobility data allowed the determination of the number of uncompensated (electrokinetic) charges on protein surfaces. The electrophoretic mobility data were converted to zeta potential values, which allowed one to determine the isoelectric point (iep) of these proteins. It was found to be at pH 5.1 for both proteins, in accordance with previous experimental data and theoretical estimations derived from amino acid composition and p K values. To determine further the stability of protein solutions, dynamic viscosity measurements were carried out as a function of their bulk volume concentration for various pH values. The intrinsic viscosity derived from these measurements was interpreted in terms of the Brenner model, which is applicable to hard spheroidal particles. It was found that the experimental values of the intrinsic viscosity of these proteins were in good agreement with this model when assuming protein dimensions of 9.5 x 5 x 5 nm3 (prolate spheroid). The possibility of forming linear aggregates of association degree higher than 2 was excluded by these measurements. It was concluded that the combination of dynamic viscosity and dynamic light scattering can be exploited as a convenient tool for detecting not only the onset of protein aggregation in suspensions but also the form and composition of these aggregates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • Electrophoresis
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Serum Albumin / chemistry*
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism*
  • Solutions
  • Viscosity
  • Water / chemistry


  • Serum Albumin
  • Solutions
  • Water