Optimization of protein samples for NMR using thermal shift assays

J Biomol NMR. 2016 Apr;64(4):281-9. doi: 10.1007/s10858-016-0027-z. Epub 2016 Mar 17.


Maintaining a stable fold for recombinant proteins is challenging, especially when working with highly purified and concentrated samples at temperatures >20 °C. Therefore, it is worthwhile to screen for different buffer components that can stabilize protein samples. Thermal shift assays or ThermoFluor(®) provide a high-throughput screening method to assess the thermal stability of a sample under several conditions simultaneously. Here, we describe a thermal shift assay that is designed to optimize conditions for nuclear magnetic resonance studies, which typically require stable samples at high concentration and ambient (or higher) temperature. We demonstrate that for two challenging proteins, the multicomponent screen helped to identify ingredients that increased protein stability, leading to clear improvements in the quality of the spectra. Thermal shift assays provide an economic and time-efficient method to find optimal conditions for NMR structural studies.

Keywords: Differential scanning fluorimetry; Nuclear magnetic resonance; Protein thermal stability; Sample optimization; Thermal shift assay; ThermoFluor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fluorometry / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular* / methods
  • Protein Stability
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Temperature


  • Proteins