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For applications from food science to the freeze-thawing of proteins it is important to understand the often complex freezing behavior of solutions of biomolecules. Here we use a magnetic method to monitor the Brownian rotation of a quasi-spherical cage-shaped protein, apoferritin, approaching the glass transition Tg in a freeze-concentrated buffer (Tris-HCl). The protein incorporates a synthetic magnetic nanoparticle (Co-doped Fe3O4 (magnetite)). We use the magnetic signal from the nanoparticles to monitor the protein orientation. As T decreases toward Tg of the buffer solution the protein's rotational relaxation time increases exponentially, taking values in the range from a few seconds up to thousands of seconds, i.e., orders of magnitude greater than usually accessed, e.g., by NMR. The longest relaxation times measured correspond to estimated viscosities >2 MPa s. As well as being a means to study low-temperature, high-viscosity environments, our method provides evidence that, for the cooling protocol used, the following applies: 1), the concentration of the freeze-concentrated buffer at Tg is independent of its initial concentration; 2), little protein adsorption takes place at the interface between ice and buffer; and 3), the protein is free to rotate even at temperatures as low as 207 K.
Bibliographical noteCopyright © 2013 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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- 1 Finished
1/01/09 → 1/07/12