Previously, we’ve been discussing the function of various reducing agents. There are a number of reducing agents that are available at Gold Bio: DTT (dithiothreitol), DTE (dithioerythritol), L-glutathione (GSH) and TCEP (Tris (2-Carboxyethyl) phosphine hydrochloride). By definition, reducing agents are elements or compounds that donate an electron to an oxidizer compound. Our last, but certainly not least, reducing agent of note is TCEP.

TCEP-HCl structure

TCEP is a fairly new reducing agent, comparatively speaking, and it has a LOT of excellent qualities to make it a favorable choice when deciding which reducer to use. First and foremost, TCEP is nearly odorless! That, all by itself, should be worth a consideration. The thiols (DTT, DTE or β-ME) may perform perfectly well, but every single scientist in the lab will gladly chip in their happy hour change if it means no longer stinking up the lab every time this experiment has to be done.

But the value of TCEP continues. It’s an equivalent reducer to DTT. It’s more stable than DTT in solutions that are EDTA-free. It does not impede maleimide attachment to myosin. It does not suffer oxidation under Ni+2 affinity columns (a common problem for DTT). It works in a greater pH range than DTT, is more stable in air and its reductions are irreversible! Oh, and did we mention that it is odorless? That bears repeating!

Note-take care not to confuse your TCEP-HCl with another common TCEP: Tris-(2-Chloroethyl) phosphate. This latter chemical is a commonly used flame retardant that has been linked to cancer in various organisms and is restricted or banned in several states. TCEP-HCl, by contrast, has no cancerous side affects; although care should always be used when handling chemicals of any sort.

TCEP and the other remarkable reducing agents available at Gold Bio are phenomenal tools for protein purification and metal ion chelating, nucleic acid and thiophosphate chemistry, or just run-of-the-mill disulfide reductions. And each reducer has advantages and disadvantages for each particular research interest. So it’s always best to do your research before randomly picking one. But they all continue to be some of the most versatile options in a scientist’s toolbox and here at Gold Bio, we’re glad that we can continue to provide these and many other quality reagents for your research needs.

Gilfix, Brian M., David W. Blank, and David S. Rosenblatt. "Novel reductant for determination of total plasma homocysteine." Clinical chemistry 43.4 (1997): 687-688.

Getz, Elise Burmeister, et al. "A comparison between the sulfhydryl reductants tris (2-carboxyethyl) phosphine and dithiothreitol for use in protein biochemistry." Analytical biochemistry 273.1 (1999): 73-80.

Liu, Peiran, et al. "A tris (2-carboxyethyl) phosphine (TCEP) related cleavage on cysteine-containing proteins." Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 21.5 (2010): 837-844.

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