Effect of pH on thermal- and chemical-induced denaturation of GFP

Klaithem M. Alkaabi, Abeer Yafea, S. Salman Ashraf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Green fluorescent protein (GFP) is an unusually stable autofluorescent protein that is increasingly being exploited for many applications. In this report, we have used fluorescence spectroscopy to study the effect of pH on the denaturation of GFP with sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), urea, and heat. Surprisingly, SDS (up to 0.5%) did not have any significant effect on the fluorescence of GFP at pH 7.5 or 8.5 buffers; however, at pH 6.5, the protein lost all fluorescence within 1 min of incubation. Similarly, incubation of GFP with 8 M urea at 50°C resulted in time dependent denaturation of GFP, but only in pH 6.5 buffer. At higher pH values (pH 7.5 and pH 8.5), the GFP was quite stable in 8 M urea at 50°C, showing only a slight decrease in fluorescence. Heat denaturation of GFP was found to be pH dependent as well, with the denaturation being fastest at pH 6.5 as compared to pH 7.5 or pH 8.5. Like the denaturation studies, renaturation of heat-denatured GFP was most efficient at pH 8.5, followed by pH 7.5, and then pH 6.5. These results suggests that GFP undergoes a structural/stability shift between pH 6.5 and pH 7.5, with the GFP structure at pH 6.5 being very sensitive to denaturation by SDS, urea, and heat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-156
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


  • E. coli
  • GFP
  • Renaturation
  • SDS
  • Thermal denaturation
  • Urea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology


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