Kinetics and thermodynamics of protein adsorption: A generalized molecular theoretical approach

Fang Fang, Igal Szleifer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


The thermodynamics and kinetics of protein adsorption are studied using a molecular theoretical approach. The cases studied include competitive adsorption from mixtures and the effect of conformational changes upon adsorption. The kinetic theory is based on a generalized diffusion equation in which the driving force for motion is the gradient of chemical potentials of the proteins. The time-dependent chemical potentials, as well as the equilibrium behavior of the system, are obtained using a molecular mean-field theory. The theory provides, within the same theoretical formulation, the diffusion and the kinetic (activated) controlled regimes. By separation of ideal and nonideal contributions to the chemical potential, the equation of motion shows a purely diffusive part and the motion of the particles in the potential of mean force resulting from the intermolecular interactions. The theory enables the calculation of the time-dependent surface coverage of proteins, the dynamic surface tension, and the structure of the adsorbed layer in contact with the approaching proteins. For the case of competitive adsorption from a solution containing a mixture of large and small proteins, a variety of different adsorption patterns are observed depending upon the bulk composition, the strength of the interaction between the particles, and the surface and size of the proteins. It is found that the experimentally observed Vroman sequence is predicted in the case that the bulk solution is at a composition with an excess of the small protein, and that the interaction between the large protein and the surface is much larger than that of the smaller protein. The effect of surface conformational changes of the adsorbed proteins in the time-dependent adsorption is studied in detail. The theory predicts regimes of constant density and dynamic surface tension that are long lived but are only intermediates before the final approach to equilibrium. The implications of the findings to the interpretation of experimental observations is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2568-2589
Number of pages22
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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