Quantitative evaluation of myoglobin unfolding in the presence of guanidinium hydrochloride and ionic liquids in solution

Olivia C. Fiebig, Emily Mancini, Gregory Caputo, Timothy D. Vaden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The use of ionic liquids in biochemical and biophysical applications has increased dramatically in recent years due to their interesting properties. We report results of a thermodynamic characterization of the chaotrope-induced denaturation of equine myoglobin in two different ionic liquid aqueous environments using a combined absorption/fluorescence spectroscopic approach. Denaturation by guanidinium hydrochloride was monitored by loss of heme absorptivity and limited unfolding structural information was obtained from Förster resonance energy transfer experiments. Results show that myoglobin unfolding is generally unchanged in the presence of ethylmethylimidazolium acetate (EMIAc) in aqueous solution up to 150 mM concentration but is facilitated by butylmethylimidazolium boron tetrafluoride (BMIBF4) in solution. The presence of 150 mM BMIBF4 alone does not induce unfolding but destabilizes the structure as observed by a decrease in threshold denaturant concentration for unfolding and an 80% decrease in the magnitude of ΔGunfolding from 44 kJ/mol in the absence of BMIBF4 to 8 kJ/mol in the presence of 150 mM BMIBF4. Thus, the BMIBF 4 significantly destabilizes the myoglobin structure while the EMIAc does not, likely due to differences in anion interaction capabilities. This is confirmed with control studies using NaAc and LiBF4 solutions. EMIAc may be chosen as cosolvent additive with minimal effects on protein structure while BMIBF4 may be used as a supplement in protein folding experiments, potentially allowing access to proteins which have been traditionally difficult to denature as well as designing ionic liquids to match protein characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-412
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 16 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantitative evaluation of myoglobin unfolding in the presence of guanidinium hydrochloride and ionic liquids in solution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this