Thermal Shift Assay for Small GTPase Stability Screening: Evaluation and Suitability

Kari Kopra, Salla Valtonen, Randa Mahran, Jonas N. Kapp, Nazia Hassan, William Gillette, Bryce Dennis, Lianbo Li, Kenneth D. Westover, Andreas Plückthun, Harri Härmä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Thermal unfolding methods are commonly used as a predictive technique by tracking the protein’s physical properties. Inherent protein thermal stability and unfolding profiles of biothera-peutics can help to screen or study potential drugs and to find stabilizing or destabilizing conditions. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) is a ‘Gold Standard’ for thermal stability assays (TSA), but there are also a multitude of other methodologies, such as differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF). The use of an external probe increases the assay throughput, making it more suitable for screening studies, but the current methodologies suffer from relatively low sensitivity. While DSF is an effective tool for screening, interpretation and comparison of the results is often complicated. To over-come these challenges, we compared three thermal stability probes in small GTPase stability stud-ies: SYPRO Orange, 8-anilino-1-naphthalenesulfonic acid (ANS), and the Protein-Probe. We studied mainly KRAS, as a proof of principle to obtain biochemical knowledge through TSA profiles. We showed that the Protein-Probe can work at lower concentration than the other dyes, and its sensitivity enables effective studies with non-covalent and covalent drugs at the nanomolar level. Using examples, we describe the parameters, which must be taken into account when characterizing the effect of drug candidates, of both small molecules and Designed Ankyrin Repeat Proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7095
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


  • GTPase
  • KRAS
  • Protein-Probe
  • SYPRO Orange
  • differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF)
  • thermal stability assay (TSA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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