Light scattering and phase behavior of lysozyme-PEG mixtures
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Measurements of liquid-liquid phase transition temperatures (cloud points) of mixtures of a protein (lysozyme) and a polymer, poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) show that the addition of low molecular weight PEG stabilizes the mixture whereas high molecular weight PEG was destabilizing. We demonstrate that this behavior is inconsistent with an entropic depletion interaction between lysozyme and PEG and suggest that an energetic attraction between lysozyme and PEG is responsible. In order to independently characterize the lysozyme/PEG interactions, light scattering experiments on the same mixtures were performed to measure second and third virial coefficients. These measurements indicate that PEG induces repulsion between lysozyme molecules, contrary to the depletion prediction. Furthermore, it is shown that third virial terms must be included in the mixture's free energy in order to qualitatively capture our cloud point and light scattering data. The light scattering results were consistent with the cloud point measurements and indicate that attractions do exist between lysozyme and PEG.