Use of Protein Charge Ladders to Study Electrostatic Interactions during Protein Ultrafiltration

Mareia Frost Ebersold, Andrew L. Zydney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of electrostatic interactions in membrane systems, but there is still controversy about the underlying phenomena. Protein charge ladders, consisting of a set of chemical derivatives of a given protein that differ by single charge groups, were used to quantify the electrostatic interactions during protein ultrafiltration. Myoglobin charge ladders were generated by acylation, with the different derivatives analyzed simultaneously by capillary electrophoresis. Filtration experiments were performed using polyethersulfone and composite regenerated cellulose membranes, with the membrane charge determined from the streaming potential. As expected, the rejection increased as the protein became more heavily charged due to the increase in electrostatic repulsion. However, the transmission of the weakly charged myoglobin species increased dramatically at very low ionic strength. This increase in transmission was attributed to a shift in pH within the pore caused by hydrogen ion partitioning into the charged membrane. The sieving data were in good agreement with theoretical calculations accounting for the effects of this pH shift on the electrostatic interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-176
Number of pages11
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 20 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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