Specific anion effects on water structure adjacent to protein monolayers. Academic Article uri icon


  • Vibrational sum frequency spectroscopy (VSFS) was used to explore specific ion effects on interfacial water structure adjacent to a bovine serum albumin (BSA) monolayer adsorbed at the air/water interface. The subphase conditions were varied by the use of six different sodium salts and four different pH values. At pH 2 and 3, the protein layer was positively charged and it was found that the most chaotropic anions caused the greatest attenuation of water structure. The order of the salts followed an inverse Hofmeister series. On the other hand, when the protein layer was near its isoelectric point (pH 5), the most chaotropic anions caused the greatest increase in water structure, although the effect was weak. In this case, a direct Hofmeister series was obeyed. Finally, virtually no effect was observed when the protein layer was negatively charged with a subphase pH of 9. For comparison, similar experiments were run with positively charged, negatively charged, and zwitterionic surfactant monolayers. These experiments gave rise to nearly the identical results as the protein monolayer which suggested that specific anion effects are dominated by the charge state of the interfacial layer rather than its detailed chemical structure. In a final set of experiments, salt effects were examined with a monolayer made from an elastin-like polypeptide (ELP). The peptide consisted of 120 pentameric repeats of the sequence Val-Pro-Gly-Val-Gly. Data from this net neutral biopolymer followed a very weak, but direct Hofmeister series. This suggested that direct anion binding to the amide groups in the backbone of a polypeptide is quite weak in agreement with the BSA data. The results from the variously charged protein, surfactant, and polymer monolayers were compared with a modified Gouy-Chapman-Stern model. The agreement with this simple model was quite good.

published proceedings

  • Langmuir

author list (cited authors)

  • Chen, X., Flores, S. C., Lim, S., Zhang, Y., Yang, T., Kherb, J., & Cremer, P. S.

citation count

  • 100

complete list of authors

  • Chen, Xin||Flores, Sarah C||Lim, Soon-Mi||Zhang, Yanjie||Yang, Tinglu||Kherb, Jaibir||Cremer, Paul S

publication date

  • November 2010