Fast and Robust Quantification of Detergent Micellization Thermodynamics from Isothermal Titration Calorimetry

Shih Chia Tso, Florian Mahler, Jonas Höring, Sandro Keller, Chad A. Brautigam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Detergents are widely used in modern in vitro biochemistry and biophysics, in particular to aid the characterization of integral membrane proteins. An important characteristic of these chemicals in aqueous solutions is the concentration above which their molecular monomers self-associate to form micelles, termed the critical micellar concentration (CMC). Micelles are supramolecular assemblies arranged with the hydrophobic portions oriented inward and the hydrophilic head groups positioned outward to interact with the aqueous solvent. Knowledge of the CMC is not only of practical relevance but also of theoretical interest because it provides thermodynamic insights. Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) is a powerful method to determine CMCs, as it furnishes additional information on the enthalpy and entropy of micellization. Here we describe our extension of previous methods to determine CMCs and other thermodynamic parameters from ITC demicellization curves. The new algorithm, incorporated into the stand-alone software package D/STAIN, analyzes ITC demicellization curves by taking advantage of state-of-the-art thermogram-integration techniques and automatically providing rigorous confidence intervals on the refined parameters. As a demonstration of the software's capabilities, we undertook ITC experiments to determine the respective CMCs of n-octyl β-d-glucopyranoside (OG), n-dodecyl β-d-maltopyranoside (DDM), and lauryldimethylamine N-oxide (LDAO). Motivated by the fact that in vitro membrane protein studies often require additives such as precipitants (e.g., polyethylene glycol (PEG)), we also carried out ITC demicellization studies in the presence of PEG3350, finding in all cases that PEG had significant effects on the thermodynamics of detergent micellization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1154-1161
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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