The measurement of volume change by capillary dilatometry

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Capillary dilatometry enables direct measurement of changes in volume, an extensive thermodynamic property. The results provide insight into the changes in hydration that occur upon protein folding, ligand binding, and the interactions of proteins with nucleic acids and other cellular components. Often the entropy change arising from release of hydrating solvent provides the main driving force of a binding reaction. For technical reasons, though, capillary dilatometry has not been as widely used in protein biochemistry and biophysics as other methods such as calorimetry. Described here are simple apparatus and simple methods, which bring the technique within the capacity of any laboratory. Even very simple results are shown to have implications for macromolecular-based phenomena. Protein examples are described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1135-1142
Number of pages8
JournalProtein Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


  • dilatometry
  • electrostriction
  • hydration
  • hydrophobicity
  • volume change


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