Journal of immunological methods

Optimized small molecule antibody labeling efficiency through continuous flow centrifugal diafiltration.

PMID 25813016


Protein immuno-detection encompasses a broad range of analytical methodologies, including western blotting, flow cytometry, and microscope-based applications. These assays which detect, quantify, and/or localize expression for one or more proteins in complex biological samples, are reliant upon fluorescent or enzyme-tagged target-specific antibodies. While small molecule labeling kits are available with a range of detection moieties, the workflow is hampered by a requirement for multiple dialysis-based buffer exchange steps that are both time-consuming and subject to sample loss. In a previous study, we briefly described an alternative method for small-scale protein labeling with small molecule dyes whereby all phases of the conjugation workflow could be performed in a single centrifugal diafiltration device. Here, we expand on this foundational work addressing functionality of the device at each step in the workflow (sample cleanup, labeling, unbound dye removal, and buffer exchange/concentration) and the implications for optimizing labeling efficiency. When compared to other common buffer exchange methodologies, centrifugal diafiltration offered superior performance as measured by four key parameters (process time, desalting capacity, protein recovery, retain functional integrity). Originally designed for resin-based affinity purification, the device also provides a platform for up-front antibody purification or albumin carrier removal. Most significantly, by exploiting the rapid kinetics of NHS-based labeling reactions, the process of continuous diafiltration minimizes reaction time and long exposure to excess dye, guaranteeing maximal target labeling while limiting the risks associated with over-labeling. Overall, the device offers a simplified workflow with reduced processing time and hands-on requirements, without sacrificing labeling efficiency, final yield, or conjugate performance.