Jump to main content
Jump to site search
SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE Close the message box

Maintenance work is planned for Monday 16 August 2021 from 07:00 to 23:59 (BST).

Website performance may be temporarily affected and you may not be able to access some PDFs or images. If this does happen, refreshing your web browser should resolve the issue. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause and thank you for your patience.

Issue 26, 2019

Measuring proteins in H2O with 2D-IR spectroscopy

Author affiliations


The amide I infrared band of proteins is highly sensitive to secondary structure, but studies under physiological conditions are prevented by strong, overlapping water absorptions, motivating the widespread use of deuterated solutions. H/D exchange raises fundamental questions regarding the impact of increased mass on protein dynamics, while deuteration is impractical for biomedical or commercial applications of protein IR spectroscopy. We show that 2D-IR spectroscopy can avoid this problem because the 2D-IR amide I signature of proteins dominates that of water even at sub-millimolar protein concentrations. Using equine blood serum as a test system, we investigate the significant implications of being able to measure the spectroscopy and dynamics of proteins in water, demonstrating relevance in areas ranging from fundamental science to the clinic. Measurements of vibrational relaxation dynamics of serum proteins reveals that deuteration slows down the rate of amide I vibrational relaxation by >10%, indicating a dynamic impact of isotopic exchange in some proteins. The unique link between protein secondary structure and 2D-IR amide I lineshape allows differentiation of signals due to albumin and globulin protein fractions in serum leading to measurements of the biomedically-important albumin to globulin ratio (AGR) with an accuracy of ±4% across a clinically-relevant range. Furthermore, we demonstrate that 2D-IR spectroscopy enables differentiation of the structurally similar globulin proteins IgG, IgA and IgM, opening up a straightforward spectroscopic approach to measuring levels of serum proteins that are currently only accessible via biomedical laboratory testing.

Graphical abstract: Measuring proteins in H2O with 2D-IR spectroscopy

Supplementary files

Article information

01 Apr 2019
13 May 2019
First published
14 May 2019

This article is Open Access
All publication charges for this article have been paid for by the Royal Society of Chemistry

Chem. Sci., 2019,10, 6448-6456
Article type
Edge Article

Measuring proteins in H2O with 2D-IR spectroscopy

S. Hume, G. Hithell, Gregory M. Greetham, P. M. Donaldson, M. Towrie, A. W. Parker, M. J. Baker and N. T. Hunt, Chem. Sci., 2019, 10, 6448 DOI: 10.1039/C9SC01590F

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications, without requesting further permission from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given and it is not used for commercial purposes.

To request permission to reproduce material from this article in a commercial publication, please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

If you are an author contributing to an RSC publication, you do not need to request permission provided correct acknowledgement is given.

If you are the author of this article, you do not need to request permission to reproduce figures and diagrams provided correct acknowledgement is given. If you want to reproduce the whole article in a third-party commercial publication (excluding your thesis/dissertation for which permission is not required) please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity

Search articles by author