A one-pot analysis approach to simplify measurements of protein stability and folding kinetics

Biochim Biophys Acta Proteins Proteom. 2019 Mar;1867(3):184-193. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2018.12.006. Epub 2018 Dec 19.


To achieve a good understanding of the characteristics of a protein, it is important to study its stability and folding kinetics. Investigations of protein stability have been recently applied to drug-target identification, drug screening, and proteomic studies. The efficiency of the experiments performed to study protein stability and folding kinetics is now a crucial factor that needs to be optimized for these potential applications. However, the standard procedures used to carry out these experiments are usually complicated and time consuming. Large number of measurements is the bottleneck that limits the application of protein folding to large-scale experiments. To overcome this limitation, we developed a method denoted as "one-pot analysis" which is based on taking a single measurement from a mixture of samples rather than from every sample. We combined one-pot analysis with pulse proteolysis to determine the effects of the binding of maltose to maltose-binding protein on the protein folding properties. After carrying out a simple optimization, we demonstrated that protein stability or unfolding kinetics could be measured accurately with just one detection measurement. We then further applied the optimized conditions to cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA). Combining one-pot analysis with CETSA led to a successful determination of the effects of the binding of methotrexate to dihydrofolate reductase in HCT116 cancer cells. Our results demonstrated the applicability of one-pot analysis to energetics-based methods for studying protein folding. We expect the combination of one-pot analysis and energetics-based methods to significantly benefit studies such as drug-target identification, proteomic investigations, and drug screening.

Keywords: Cellular thermal shift assay; One-pot analysis; Protein folding kinetics; Protein stability; Pulse proteolysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Maltose / chemistry
  • Maltose-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • Methotrexate / pharmacology
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Stability*
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase / metabolism


  • Maltose-Binding Proteins
  • Maltose
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase
  • Methotrexate