BioFiles Volume 5, Number 2 — Protein Characterization & Detection

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Monika Bäumle
Monika Bäumle

The need for more extensive protein characterization grows as protein applications increase and the range of studied proteins expands. As the study of proteins, especially antibodies, moves toward therapeutic applications, regulations for clinical use require more comprehensive characterization regarding sequence homology, signature, and post-translational modifications.

Techniques have advanced as more proteins are studied as possible targets in drug discovery. Characterization of potential drug targets aids in design and selection of possible therapeutics to be screened. Research of biological fluids has now expanded to include low abundance proteins as targets of small molecule compounds. The research is moving away from identification of a large number of target proteins to isolation and characterization of small clusters of proteins of interest. Understanding the dynamics of protein-protein interactions as well as the characterization of insoluble proteins found in lipid membranes are other areas of interest for drug discovery.

While the demand for uses of protein characterization has been increasing, the techniques applied have also advanced. Analytical instrumentation continues to improve, with mass spectrometry evolving from a qualitative tool for identification to a quantitative method. A variety of techniques are applied when characterizing proteins; alternative methods may be used by researchers and development scientists to validate one specific method or qualify a technique for additional work. Overall, protein researchers do not rely on a single technique to characterize their proteins, but instead use a collection of techniques to assemble the greatest amount of information about their protein of interest.

This issue of BioFiles focuses on analytical techniques such as electrophoresis, crystallography, and MALDI-mass spectrometry, along with products used with luminescent techniques. Topics in this issue include:

  • Improved Atto and Tracy Dye Protein Labeling Kits
  • X-ray Crystallography/Crystallization
  • MALDI Mass Spectrometry
  • Colorimetric Electrophoresis Stains
  • Isoelectric-Focusing (IEF)
  • Ampliflu™ Red Western Blot Kit

Structural information can be obtained through such methods as X-ray crystallography and MALDI-MS. X-ray crystallography enables the investigation of protein function and interactions. Crystallography kits from Sigma® can help speed-up screening while limiting effort.

Luminescent techniques are one of the most important, widespread and fast-growing analytical tools. High sensitivity and selectivity are fundamental requirements for tracking molecular interactions, mobility, and conformational changes of biomolecules. Sigma has extensive experience with fluorescent and chemiluminescent probes and organic synthesis, a focus on key analytical techniques for life science research, and a tradition of stringent quality assurance to ensure the highest level of product performance. We are continuously developing new detection products and optimizing application protocols for use in biochemistry.

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