The conformation of bovine serum albumin (BSA), as well as its interactions with negatively charged mica surfaces in saline solutions of different pH values, have been studied by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) and chemical force microscopy (CFM), respectively. A new approach to extract the contribution of elementary interactions from the statistically averaged force-extension curves through self-consistent fitting was proposed and used to understand the effects of pH on the interactions and conformation of BSA in saline solutions. When pH increases, the SANS results reveal that the sizes of BSA molecules increase slightly, while the statistical analysis of the CFM results shows that the averaged pull-off force for the elongation monotonously decreases. The decrease of pull-off force with the increase of pH results from the decrease in the strength of hydrogen bonding and the number of interaction pairs, as well as the slight increase of the strength of van der Waals interaction. When pH approaches the isoelectric point (pi) of BSA, results from both SANS and CFM suggest a loss of long-range interactions in BSA molecules. Our results also suggest that the force-extension curve is mainly contributed by the van der Waals interaction. The combination of SANS and CFM provides new insight to understand the interactions and conformation of BSA molecules.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry