Multi-wavelength analytical ultracentrifugation of biopolymer mixtures and interactions


  • Interactions between biopolymers play a vital role in various biological processes, and their study is paramount in understanding metabolic, developmental, and regulatory mechanisms
  • While various methods exist to study macromolecular interactions, such as x-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry, and surface plasmon resonance, they come with limitations. For instance, some don't allow for studying molecules in a solution state where dynamic properties like reversible association can be adjusted, others necessitate the binding of molecules to solid supports, and some require excessive sample amounts or lack resolution for complex interactions.


  • To address these limitations, multi-wavelength analytical ultracentrifugation (MW-AUC) was introduced.
  • This method allows the study of biopolymer interactions in conditions mimicking physiological environments, including changes in pH, ionic strength, and redox potential.
  • MW-AUC provides an avenue to titrate drugs and other molecules to observe their interactions reversibly. By leveraging unique chromophores and their extinction profiles, MW-AUC can obtain information from an additional spectral dimension.
  • The method has seen iterative improvements since its inception: in 2008, the integration of a UV-visible multi-wavelength detector to the analytical ultracentrifuge added an optical dimension, in 2015 the optical system was further refined, and by 2018, advancements like "Cölfen optics" augmented the method's precision. The Optima AUC™ series, released in 2016 by Beckman-Coulter, further modernized the field with the integration of interference optics and multi-wavelength absorption optics.


  • MW-AUC emerges as a versatile and enhanced solution to the challenges of studying biopolymer interactions. It provides improved accuracy and flexibility over traditional methods, allowing for more nuanced studies in physiological conditions.
  • The various improvements and additions to the method, such as the Cölfen optics and Beckman optics, have further expanded its potential applications and reliability.
  • Guidance on using these systems, their pros and cons, and recommendations for experimental designs ensure that researchers can leverage the benefits of MW-AUC to its fullest potential in understanding intricate biopolymer interactions.
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Comparability Studies
Material Science (metal nanoparticles, synthetic polymers, drug compounds)

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