Concentrated ionic liquids for proteomics: Caveat emptor!

Publication Name

International Journal of Biological Macromolecules


The use of concentrated ionic liquids (ILs) in the bioanalytical chemistry of proteins is sparse; typically, dilute aqueous IL solutions are used. Concentrated ILs have unique properties that may allow researchers to dissolve previously insoluble protein analytes, to increase the depth and robustness of sample preparation and the analysis of proteins. Previous research using concentrated ILs for this purpose is sparse and there is a need to systematically investigate the structure-activity relationship between the IL structure and its capacity to solubilise proteins. Here, bovine serum albumin was dissolved in various ionic liquids and monitored over time by light microscopy and SDS-PAGE. While qualitative, these measures provide a good estimate of, respectively, the dissolving power of an IL towards the given protein and the retained integrity of the protein. Hydrophilic ILs show the best solubilisation capacity and higher temperatures (in a restricted sense) improve the solubility of the protein. Higher temperatures and longer reaction times reduce the molecular weight of the protein, which could inhibit their applicability in proteomics, unless the conditions are judiciously controlled. Researchers should exercise caution when using concentrated ILs for protein analysis until the full scope and limitations are known, an aspect we are presently investigating.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Article Number


Funding Sponsor

University of Technology Sydney



Link to publisher version (DOI)