Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 25 Jan '17Published in: Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Characterization of molecular interactions in terms of basic binding parameters such as binding affinity, stoichiometry, and thermodynamics is an essential step in basic and applied science. MicroScale Thermophoresis (MST) is a sensitive biophysical method to obtain this important information. Relying on a physical effect called thermophoresis, which describes the movement of molecules through temperature gradients, this technology allows for the fast and precise determination of binding parameters in solution and allows the free choice of buffer conditions (from buffer to lysates/sera). MST uses the fact that an unbound molecule displays a different thermophoretic movement than a molecule that is in complex with a binding partner. The thermophoretic movement is altered in the moment of molecular interaction due to changes in size, charge, and hydration shell. By comparing the movement profiles of different molecular ratios of the two binding partners, quantitative information such as binding affinity (pM to mM) can be determined. Even challenging interactions between molecules of small sizes, such as aptamers and small compounds, can be studied by MST. Using the well-studied model interaction between the DH25.42 DNA aptamer and ATP, this manuscript provides a protocol to characterize aptamer-small molecule interactions. This study demonstrates that MST is highly sensitive and permits the mapping of the binding site of the 7.9 kDa DNA aptamer to the adenine of ATP.