Immobilized enzyme reactor chromatography: Optimization of protein retention and enzyme activity in monolithic silica stationary phases
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Our group recently reported on the application of protein-doped monolithic silica columns for immobilized enzyme reactor chromatography, which allowed screening of enzyme inhibitors present in mixtures using mass spectrometry for detection. The enzyme was immobilized by entrapment within a bimodal meso/macroporous silica material prepared by a biocompatible sol-gel processing route. While such columns proved to be useful for applications such as screening of protein-ligand interactions, significant amounts of entrapped proteins leached from the columns owing to the high proportion of macropores within the materials. Herein, we describe a detailed study of factors affecting the morphology of protein-doped bioaffinity columns and demonstrate that specific pH values and concentrations of poly(ethylene glycol) can be used to prepare essentially mesoporous columns that retain over 80% of initially loaded enzyme in an active and accessible form and yet still retain sufficient porosity to allow pressure-driven flow in the low muL/min range. Using the enzyme gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (gamma-GT), we further evaluated the catalytic constants of the enzyme entrapped in capillary columns with different silica morphologies as a function of flowrate and backpressure using the enzyme reactor assay mode. It was found that the apparent activity of the enzyme was highest in mesoporous columns that retained high levels of enzyme. In such columns, enzyme activity increased by approximately 2-fold with increases in both flowrate (from 250 to 1000 nL/min) and backpressure generated (from 500 to 2100 psi) during the chromatographic activity assay owing to increases in k(cat) and decreases in K(M), switching from diffusion controlled to reaction controlled conditions at ca. 2000 psi. These results suggest that columns with minimal macropore volumes (<5%) are advantageous for the entrapment of soluble proteins for bioaffinity and bioreactor chromatography.
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