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Keywords:

  • thermodynamics;
  • calorimetry;
  • interactions;
  • drug discovery;
  • molecular dynamics;
  • heat capacity;
  • enzyme kinetics

Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) is a biophysical technique for measuring the formation and dissociation of molecular complexes and has become an invaluable tool in many branches of science from cell biology to food chemistry. By measuring the heat absorbed or released during bond formation, ITC provides accurate, rapid, and label-free measurement of the thermodynamics of molecular interactions. In this review, we survey the recent literature reporting the use of ITC and have highlighted a number of interesting studies that provide a flavour of the diverse systems to which ITC can be applied. These include measurements of protein-protein and protein-membrane interactions required for macromolecular assembly, analysis of enzyme kinetics, experimental validation of molecular dynamics simulations, and even in manufacturing applications such as food science. Some highlights include studies of the biological complex formed by Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin C3 and the murine T-cell receptor, the mechanism of membrane association of the Parkinson's disease-associated protein α-synuclein, and the role of non-specific tannin-protein interactions in the quality of different beverages. Recent developments in automation are overcoming limitations on throughput imposed by previous manual procedures and promise to greatly extend usefulness of ITC in the future. We also attempt to impart some practical advice for getting the most out of ITC data for those researchers less familiar with the method. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.