On-chip measurements of protein unfolding from direct observations of micron-scale diffusion†
Investigations of protein folding, unfolding and stability are critical for the understanding of the molecular basis of biological structure and function. We describe here a microfluidic approach to probe the unfolding of unlabelled protein molecules in microliter volumes. We achieve this objective through the use of a microfluidic platform, which allows the changes in molecular diffusivity upon folding and unfolding to be detected directly. We illustrate this approach by monitoring the unfolding of bovine serum albumin in solution as a function of pH. These results show the viability of probing protein stability on chip in small volumes.