Competitive adsorption of model charged proteins: The effect of total charge and charge distribution

Peng Gong, I. Szleifer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The adsorption of mixtures of charged proteins on charged surfaces is studied using a molecular theory. The theory explicitly treats each of the molecular species in the system. The mixtures treated in this work are composed by two types of proteins, dissociated monovalent salt and solvent. The intermolecular and surface interactions include electrostatic, van der Waals and excluded volume. The theory is more general than the Poisson-Boltzmann approach since the size and shape of all the molecular components are explicitly treated. The studies presented in this work concentrate on the differences in competitive adsorption when the proteins in the mixtures differ in their total charge or in the spatial distribution of the charges within the proteins. In the cases of mixtures that differ in the number of charges it is found, as expected, that the particles with the larger charge adsorb in excess. The ratio of adsorbed proteins can vary by 3-5 orders of magnitude by varying the bulk salt concentration from 1 to 100 mM. This is the result of an increase on the adsorption of the proteins with larger charge and an even stronger decrease on the adsorption of the less charged particles. The simple model systems studied provide guidelines on how to separate charge ladder proteins and proteins with different charge distributions. In the case of proteins with the same total charge but different charge distribution, it is found that the partition of the proteins depends upon the bulk composition. However, in general the particles with the highest localized charge tend to adsorb more on the surfaces. The proteins are adsorbed in one or more layers. The structure of the second adsorbed layer is determined mostly by the bulk properties of the solution. In all cases it is found that in the range of salt concentrations studied the number of adsorbed ions from the salt is very large. This is due to competitive adsorption with the proteins and their very low bulk concentration compared to the salt. The limitations of the theory and directions for improvement of the approach as well as the model for the proteins are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-90
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004


  • Adsorption isotherms
  • Charge distribution
  • Competitive adsorption
  • Electrostatic interactions
  • Protein adsorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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