Affinity Partitioning in PEG-Containing Two-Phase Systems

  • Göte Johansson
Part of the Topics in Applied Chemistry book series (TAPP)


Water and other liquids can be divided into two fluid compartments or phases (in direct contact with each other) by using them as solvents for poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) together with another polymeric substance.1 The incompatibility of polymers in solution that gives rise to this phase separation also has the consequence that the two polymers are accumulated in opposite phases. The difference in polymer structures and polymer concentrations in the phases may cause significant divergences in the solvating properties for high molecular weight substances added in low concentration. When water is used as the solvent, added salts partition more or less evenly between the phases. Proteins, on the other hand, partition more unequally. The actual partition of a substance is described by the partition coefficient, K, which is defined as the ratio of the concentration of partitioned substance between the upper and lower phase. The most popular aqueous two-phase systems for partitioning of biological substances have been the ones containing PEG and dextran.2–4 The top phases of these systems contain, besides water, mainly PEG (5–15%) while the bottom phases contain dextran (10–25%) and some PEG (0.2–2%). Three PEG-dextran systems which have identical phase compositions are shown in Figure 1.


Partition Coefficient Free Ligand Target Substance Affinity Ligand Binodal Curve 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Göte Johansson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, Chemical CenterUniversity of LundLundSweden

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