AAT Bioquest

How does heat denature a protein?

Posted June 22, 2020


Heat increases the kinetic energy and causes the molecules to vibrate more rapidly and violently. The accelerated vibration can disrupt the hydrogen bonds, hydrophobic interactions, as well as Van der Waals forces, causing the unfolding of protein’s 3D structure and even destroying the ?-helix and the ?-sheets. Therefore, the protein is denatured due to loss of its quaternary, tertiary and secondary structures.

Cooking food is one typical application of heat-induced protein denaturation in our daily life. Medical supplies and instruments are also commonly sterilized by heating, where bacteria are killed by denaturing their proteins.

Additional resources

Amplite™ Fluorimetric Fluorescamine Protein Quantitation Kit *Blue Fluorescence*

Amplite™ Rapid Colorimetric Total Protein Thiol Quantitation Assay Kit

Branden, C. I., & Tooze, J. (2012). Introduction to protein structure. Garland Science.

Tanford, C. (1968). Protein denaturation. In Advances in protein chemistry (Vol. 23, pp. 121-282). Academic press.