DSFworld: A flexible and precise tool to analyze differential scanning fluorimetry data

Protein Sci. 2024 Jun;33(6):e5022. doi: 10.1002/pro.5022.


Differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF) is a method to determine the apparent melting temperature (Tma) of a purified protein. In DSF, the raw unfolding curves from which Tma is calculated vary widely in shape and complexity. However, the tools available for calculating Tma are only compatible with the simplest of DSF curves, hindering many otherwise straightforward applications of the technology. To overcome this limitation, we designed new mathematical models for Tma calculation that accommodate common forms of variation in DSF curves, including the number of transitions, the presence of high initial signal, and temperature-dependent signal decay. When tested these models against DSFbase, an open-source database of 6235 raw, real-life DSF curves, these models outperformed the existing standard approaches of sigmoid fitting and maximum of the first derivative. To make these models accessible, we created an open-source software and website, DSFworld (https://gestwickilab.shinyapps.io/dsfworld/). In addition to these improved fitting capabilities, DSFworld also includes features that overcome the practical limitations of many analysis workflows, including automatic reformatting of raw data exported from common qPCR instruments, labeling of data based on experimental variables, and flexible interactive plotting. We hope that DSFworld will enable more streamlined and accurate calculation of Tma values for DSF experiments.

Keywords: biological software; curve fitting; protein stability; thermal shift assay; thermoflour.

MeSH terms

  • Fluorometry* / methods
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Software*
  • Transition Temperature