National Physical Laboratory

Protein structure analysis by spectroscopic methods

Biotechnology Physicochemical Characterisation 

The Biotechnology team at NPL provides expertise in an array of spectroscopic techniques, such as Ultraviolet-Visible (UV-Vis) absorption spectroscopy, Circular Dichroism (CD), Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) and fluorescence spectroscopy. These techniques can be utilised to study the structure of proteins as structural changes can have a major impact on their activity, stability and toxicity, and consequently can compromise the efficacy and shelf life of products.

UV-Vis can be used as a sensitive measure of subtle changes in protein structure and also to determine the protein concentration and purity of a protein solution. 

CD in the far UV region (180–260nm) provides information regarding different forms of regular secondary structure found in proteins whereas the near UV region (240-360nm) can provide a detailed fingerprint of the tertiary structure. It can provide information about interaction between ligands or cofactors for e.g. DNA-protein interaction. CD can also be very useful in the comparison of batches of pharmaceuticals and we can provide some additional help with the analysis using objective pattern recognition techniques. We also provide advice and consultancy on obtaining a good quality CD spectral measurement.

FTIR facilitates the structural analysis of proteins in different chemical environments, which makes it a valuable tool for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. This technique can be utilised to analyse the structure of protein therapeutics at higher concentrations, than CD. The facilities available in house - ATR accessories specially designed for protein solutions and powders - enable the analysis of proteins in formulation buffer as well as in powder form.

Fluorescence spectroscopy can also provide tertiary structural information. Changes in the local environment of tryptophan residues can be followed by changes in the emission spectra.

If you are interested in any of these services, please contact us.


Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8637

Last Updated: 18 Aug 2015
Created: 6 May 2009


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