Method of protein isolation and purification

Method of protein isolation and purification:

A protein must be purified before its structure and the mechanism of its action can be studied. However, because proteins vary in size, charge, and water soluble, no single method can be used to isolate all proteins. To isolate one particular protein from the estimated 10,000 different proteins in a cell is a daunting task that requires methods both for separating proteins and for detecting the presence of specific proteins.To be able to isolate a specific protein from a crude mixture the physical and/or chemical

properties of the individual protein must be utilized. There is no single or simple way topurify all kinds of proteins. Procedures and conditions used in the purification process of one protein may result in the inactivation of another.The final goal also has to be considered when choosing purification method. The purity required depends on the purpose for which the protein is needed. For an enzyme that is to be used in a washing powder, a relatively impure sample is sufficient, provided it does not contain any inhibiting activities. However, if the protein is aimed for therapeutic use it must be extremely pure and purification must then be done in several subsequent steps.


Depending on the source, the protein has to be brought into solution by breaking the tissue or cells containing it. There are several methods to achieve this: Repeated freezing and thawing, sonication, homogenization by high pressure, filtration, or permeabilization by organic solvents. The method of choice depends on how fragile the protein is and how sturdy the cells are. After this extraction process soluble proteins will be in the solvent, and can be separated from cell membranes, DNA etc. by centrifugation. The extraction process also extracts proteases, which will start digesting the proteins in the solution.

Precipitation and differential solubilization:

In bulk protein purification, a common first step to isolate proteins is precipitation with ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4. This is performed by adding increasing amounts of ammonium sulfate and collecting the different fractions of precipitate protein. Ammonium sulphate can be removed by dialysis.The hydrophobic groups on the proteins gets exposed to the atmosphere and it attracts other protein hydrophobic groups and gets aggregated

The first proteins to be purified are water-soluble proteins. Purification of integral membrane proteins requires disruption of the cell membrane in order to isolate any one particular protein from others that are in the same membrane compartment. Sometimes a particular membrane fraction can be isolated first, such as isolating mitochondria from cells before purifying a protein located in a mitochondrial membrane. A detergent such as sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) can be used to dissolve cell membranes and keep membrane proteins in solution during purification; however, because SDS causes denaturation, milder detergents such as Triton X-100 or CHAPS can be used to retain the protein’s native conformation during complete purification.


Centrifugation is a process that uses centrifugal force to separate mixtures of particles of varying masses or densities suspended in a liquid. When a vessel (typically a tube or bottle) containing a mixture of proteins or other particulate matter, such as bacterial cells, is rotated at high speeds, the angular momentum yields an outward force to each particle that is proportional to its mass. The tendency of a given particle to move through the liquid because of this force is offset by the resistance the liquid exerts on the particle. The net effect of “spinning” the sample in a centrifuge is that massive, small, and dense particles move outward faster than less massive particles or particles with more “drag” in the liquid. When suspensions of particles are “spun” in a centrifuge, a “pellet” may form at the bottom of the vessel that is enriched for the most massive particles with low drag in the liquid. Non-compacted particles still remaining mostly in the liquid are called the “supernatant” and can be removed from the vessel to separate the supernatant from the pellet..

Chromatographic methods:


Chromatographic equipment. Here set up for a size exclusion chromatography. The buffer is pumped through the column (right) by a computer controlled device.

Usually a protein purification protocol contains one or more chromatographic steps. The basic procedure in chromatography is to flow the solution containing the protein through a column packed with various materials. Different proteins interact differently with the column material, and can thus be separated by the time required to pass the column, or the conditions required to elute the protein from the column. Usually proteins are detected as they are coming off the column by their absorbance at 280 nm.

Many different chromatographic methods exist:

1.Size exclusion chromatography

2.Ion exchange chromatography                                    

3.Immunoaffinity chromatography



About Mosarrof Hossain

I am very simple person who is a pharmacist and dedicated to well being of mankind.
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