SIGMA Detergents

bio protein biodatacenter biotechnology bioinformatics

Detergents have been staples in the research laboratory for over 60 years. A paper from 1946 regarding the isolation of Eschericia coli phage using cationic detergents cites earlier work on the lysis of bacteria and viruses with detergents.1 The ongoing challenge continues for analysis and preparation of proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and small biomolecules in aqueous media. Life may be water-based but its components are not always water-soluble. Given the vast number of past publications, older reviews of detergent properties and applications are still informative. Recent articles on analysis, isolation, and crystallization of membrane proteins demonstrate detergents are not obsolete, but continue as important reagents in life science research.2–4For proteomics applications, the use of detergents focuses on the balance of attributes a detergent provides:1. The detergent should solubilize the protein.2. The detergent should stabilize the folded protein to maintain functionality.3. The detergent must not interfere with downstream techniques. This may be accomplished by either selection of a non-interfering detergent or by removal of the detergent after isolation of the detergent-protein complex.Since detergents are common, well-established reagents, it is useful to review their suitability for biomolecular solubilization and understand how to use physical parameters for detergent selection in a specific application. Even then, experimentation and evaluation are often required. As stated by Privé, “Despite the large number of detergents that are commercially available, no single “universal detergent” is ideally suited to all biochemical applications

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