Thermally induced conformational changes and protein–protein interactions of bovine serum albumin in aqueous solution under different pH and ionic strengths as revealed by SAXS measurements†
Thermal-induced conformational changes and protein–protein interactions of bovine serum albumin (BSA) in aqueous solution are assessed by small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) at two pH values (7.4 and 9.0) and two ionic strengths (0.1 and 0.5). We demonstrate that Guinier analysis in two ranges of the modulus of the scattering vector allows protein melting and aggregation to be monitored simultaneously, thus providing insights into the mechanism of thermal-induced BSA aggregation. Results of the analysis suggest that at room temperature monomeric and dimeric BSA fractions are present in solution. For low concentrations (<10 mg mL−1) the monomeric to dimeric fraction ratio is close to 6, the same value we obtained independently in size-exclusion chromatography experiments. For elevated concentrations (20 mg mL−1 and 40 mg mL−1) a decrease in the dimer fraction occurs. Following heating, dimer formation is observed prior to protein melting, while no higher order aggregates are observed in the 20–60 °C temperature range. In the vicinity of the BSA melting point, higher order aggregates appear and protein molecules exhibit an aggregation burst. Higher ionic strength makes the described effects more pronounced – dimer formation increases at lower temperatures, presumably due to partial screening of electrostatic interactions between protein molecules. Moreover, the melting temperature shifts to higher values upon increasing the protein concentration and pH, indicating that repulsive interactions stabilize the protein structure. The suggested model was verified by the assessment of parameters of protein–protein interaction potentials based on DLVO theory using the global fitting procedure.