Additional Applications of Detergents


Detergents play a huge role in biochemical research, especially in membrane protein research. From membrane protein solubilization and stability, membrane protein purification to membrane protein crystallization, detergents are everywhere. Therefore, when it comes to detergent, membrane proteins naturally come to mind. However, the applications of detergents are far more than that. Additional detergents applications include DNA and RNA extraction, lipid raft extraction, prevention of non-specific binding in immunoassays, inclusion body solubilization and virus inactivation.

Know More About the Applications of Detergents

  • Nucleic acid extraction: As one of the most basic experiments in molecular experiments, nucleic acid extraction is the basic of most experiments such as cloning, PCR, qPCR, library building sequencing, etc. Nucleic acid extraction can be performed using sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and cetyltrimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB) detergents, which can lysis cells to release of nucleic acids. These two methods are also known as SDS method and CTAB method. Take DNA extraction as an example. SDS can destroy the electrostatic attraction or coordination bond between DNA and protein in cells, so as to extract DNA. CTAB is a cationic detergent that can release DNA-protein complexes from cells by dissolving lipid membranes, and then denatures the protein to separate DNA from the complexes.

Additional Applications of Detergents

  • Lipid raft extraction: Lipid raft is a special membrane component rich in cholesterol and sphingomyelin. Recent studies have shown that lipid rafts are involved in many biological processes of cells, including signal transduction, membranes sorting, virus development, pathogenic role of prion protein and directed migration of adenocarcinoma cells. To study the function of lipid raft, lipid raft must be purified and separated first. According to previous reports, detergents can remove cell membrane components of organelles and nuclear fragments and dissolve non-lipid raft components based on the properties of lipid raft that insoluble in detergent at 4 ℃, and then separating lipid raft.
  • Prevention of non-specific binding in immunoassays: Tween-20 and TWEen-80 are mild detergents. They are often used buffer components in western blotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay because they can minimize nonspecific binding antibodies and remove nonbinding portions.

Additional Applications of Detergents

  • Inclusion body solubilization: Inclusion bodies are high density, insoluble protein particles wrapped by membrane when foreign genes are expressed in prokaryotic cells. Proteins in inclusion bodies are unfolded aggregates and do not have biological activity. Therefore, to obtain biologically active proteins, inclusion bodies must be dissolved. In general, by using the mild detergent TritonX-100 washes the inclusion body to remove the membrane fragments and membrane proteins first, and then the hydrophobic bonds in the protein can be broken by SDS, n-hexyl trimethyl chloride and Sarkosyl to dissolve the inclusion body and finally releases the protein.
  • Virus inactivation: The COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping the world. To meet this challenge, participants need an informed approach for working safely with the etiological agent, the novel human coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Samples containing infectious SARS-CoV-2 require an initial inactivation step in primary containment (e.g., in an MSC) before further processing. Detergents can be used to inactivate lipid enveloped viruses such as coronaviruses by disrupting the viral envelope, thereby rendering them unable to attach or enter cells. Welch et al. evaluated Triton X-100, SDS, NP-40, and Tween 20 for their ability to inactivate SARS-CoV-2. Detergent inactivation data indicated that SDS, Triton X-100, and NP-40 can effectively inactivate SARS-CoV-2 both in tissue culture fluid and also in pooled oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal swab fluid [1].

Additional Applications of Detergents

At Alfa Chemistry, we deliver a wide range of high-quality detergents, including anionic detergents, cationic detergents, non-ionic detergents, zwitterionic detergents and deuterated detergents to support your any biochemical applications. In addition, we also can offer some special and novel detergents such as neopentyl-based glycosides, fluorinated detergents, tripod detergents, seleniated detergents and others. If you don't find the product you want, we also can tailor reagents to meet your needs. Please don't hesitate to contact us, if you are in need of assistance.


  1. Welch S. R., et al. Analysis of inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 by specimen transport media, nucleic acid extraction reagents, detergents, and fixatives[J]. Journal of clinical microbiology, 2020, 58(11): e01713-20.

Our products and services are for research use only.